It’s been our pleasure to bring you numerous articles about one of the greatest exploits of the Basques in the world. We’re of course referring to the Basque Passionists who have been active in the Peruvian Amazon for over 100 years, carrying out extraordinary work defending the most vulnerable and those exploited and forsaken by the economic and political powers of their country.
This work led to the creation of two administrative bodies of the Catholic Church which have been, and are, entrusted to these Basque religious whose “headquarters” is San Felicísimo church in Deusto. The first of these would be the Prelature of Moyobamba, created in 1953, where three of the four bishops have been Basque Passionists. Regarding its first bishop, Monsignor Martín Fulgencio Elorza Legaristi, we have a thorough articule containing two books in .pdf format which are key to understanding his amazing work.
The other, whose 100th anniversary we are celebrating today, was created on February 27, 1921 by Pope Benedict XV. Ever since, it has been entrusted to the Basque Passionists, and all of its bishops have come from San Felicísimo.
We’ve written extensively about them in several articules, so we won’t repeat ourselves here. But we did want to highlight the work of the Basque missionaries around the world, as they are such an important part of our Diaspora, and their work must be remembered and recognized.
But we do want to remember this date, share the inaugural events of this jubilee year for all the residents of Yurimaguas, and share the book telling the history of the Vicariate written by its current bishop, Jesús María Aristín as well as his su pastoral letter on the occasion of the 100th anniversary.
We couldn’t end this post without recalling an idea we’ve repeated several times:
“the Basque diaspora and its role in the world is a fundamental, vital part of our nation, and in it, one of the least well known, despite its utmost importance, is the work of the Basque religious men and women in the worst of conditions.
We’ve spoken a great deal about whalers, shepherds, exiles, gudaris, … We, with respect and pride, have discussed many extraordinary people, famous and anonymous, who for centuries have given, and still do, this small nation of ours a starring role in History. In this part of “the best” of our nation are many of the Basque missionaries who gave, and lost, their lives to help those who had nothing. We’ve spoken about Basque missionaries on many occasions, but we’re always left with the feeling it’s never enough. That feeling only gets stronger when we think of the Passionists.
It’s hard for us to talk about the Passionist Fathers without being overcome by a mixture of feelings: the pride of the fact that our country, our Basque community, could, for over a hundred years, offer up the energy of some extraordinary people capable of doing so much good in the worst circumstances; the sorrow of seeing how this epic, Herculean work, worthy of infinite praise, is overshadowed in a society that all too often is blinded by bling and is ignorant of the immense wealth to be found in the hearts, and works, of many good people; the admiration we’ve felt since we were young, when we learned about the commitment of many in their number to aid those persecuted by Franco; and the personal shame of not having known until recently about their amazing work in the Amazon, getting at least an inkling of its magnitude.”
Try an experiment: check out the Basque news media over the next few days to see if there are any references to the extraordinary work of these Basques. We doubt you’ll find many. That’s something we need to reflect on.
Book about the history of the Vicariate of Yurimaguas written by Monsignor Jesús María Aristín
Pastoral letter on the occasion of the 100th anniversary
Inauguration of the Year of the 100th anniversary, with the “Opening of the Holy Door” at the Cathedral of Yurimaguas
Inaugural celebration on the Year of the 100th Anniversary at the Cathedral of Yurimaguas
Con With the collaboration and support of Oiga magazine, founded by Basque-Peruvian journalist Paco Igartua