Feb 29, 2024 167 Shalom Tidings

Never Let Go

It was July 1936, the height of the Spanish war. El Pelé was walking through the streets of Barbastro, Spain, when a huge commotion captured his attention. As he rushed to the source, he saw soldiers dragging a priest through the streets. He couldn’t just stand on the fringes and watch; he rushed to defend the priest. The soldiers weren’t intimidated and shouted at him to surrender his weapon. He held up his rosary and told them: “I have only this.”

Ceferino Giménez Malla, fondly known as El Pelé, was a Romani—a community often pejoratively referred to as Gypsies and looked down upon by mainstream society. But Pelé was held in great esteem not only by his own community, even educated people respected this illiterate man for his honesty and wisdom.

When he was arrested and imprisoned in 1936, his wife had passed away, and he was already a grandfather.

Even in prison, he continued to hold fast to his rosary. Everyone, even his daughter, begged him to give it up. His friends advised him that if he stopped praying, his life might be saved. But for El Pelé, to give up his rosary or to stop praying was symbolic of denying his faith.

So, at the age of 74, he was shot dead and thrown in a mass grave. This brave soldier of Christ died shouting: “Long live Christ the King!” still holding a rosary in his hands.

Sixty years later, Blessed Ceferino Giménez Malla became the first of the Romani community ever to be beatified, proving again that the Savior is ever-present to everyone who calls upon Him, irrespective of color or creed.


Shalom Tidings

Shalom Tidings

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