On this day we celebrate the feast of Blessed Sebastián de Aparicio Prado. He was born in Galicia in 1502 to Julian de Aparicio and Teresa del Prado.
As a boy, Sebastián took care of his parents' few cattle, worked in the fields, and "learned to unite prayer to labour". After a few years, he set out to seek his fortune. He worked in Salamanca, in Estremadura, and in Sanlucar de Barrameda. In all those cities, "he avoided idleness, bad company, the tavern, and other dangerous places".
When he had saved enough money to return to life in the country, he rented a small farm, and "with the blessing of heaven, his fields produced much more than they ever did before, and this his neighbours often wondered at".
Sebastián continued "to increase his capital, without forgetting the relief of the poor", and having heard of the "richness and fertility of Mexico", he decided to move to America. In 1533, he arrived at Veracruz and settled near Pueblo de los Angelos.
Sebastián was enchanted by the beauty of Mexico, and there, as in Spain, he was successful. He tamed the wild cattle "which no one had yet dared to domesticate, or accustom to farm work." Sebastián soon had them pulling ploughs.
Next, "he resolved to establish a regular service of carts" to carry "merchandise from the seaports to the interior". But without roads, carts were useless, so Sebastián built roads.
As always, he prospered, and as always, he shared his wealth with the poor, giving them employment, help with farming, food, seed, dowries, bail money.
At the age of sixty, Sebastián married, but his wife died after a year. He married again, but his second wife also died after a short time. Sebastián recovered from two serious illnesses, and in 1573, at the age of seventy-one, he gave away his property and became a lay brother in the Franciscan convent at Mexico City.
He was sent by his superiors to Tecali and then to Puebla. "His duty in this last convent was to collect the alms, which he did going round with his cart, the reins in one hand, his beads in the other".
Sebastián de Aparicio died on February 25, 1600, at the age of ninety-eight. He was beatified in 1790 by Pope Pius VI.
--from "Blessed Sebastian de Aparcio, Gardener, Road-Maker, and Carman," in Light from the Lowly, by the Rev. Francis Butiña, S. J., Dublin, 1884.
Click here to see the statue of Bd. Sebastián in front of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Puebla. On the left of the plinth is a map of the road the "Precursor de los Caminos de America" built from Zacatecas to Veracruz. Bd. Sebastián's remains are enshrined in the church.