Bl. Juan Nepomuceno Zegrí y Moreno
Memorial: October 11
Founder of the Mercedarian Sisters of Charity
Juan Nepomuceno Zegrí y Moreno, founder of the Mercedarian Sisters of Charity, a man of God and of profound humility, was born in Granada on October 11, 1831, which was, at that time, the feast of the Maternity of Mary. He would spend his whole life enamored with our Blessed Mother.
In his youth, Bl. Juan was quick-witted and passionately interested in the humanities, but, above all, he was was young, committed Christian who prayed. The caliber of his human and evangelical life was well known among his companions, who saw that his future was headed toward the priesthood. Testimonies from his seminary years speak about a well-mannered young man and his upright life, great spirituality, sound and instructive oratory, his honesty, recollection, and diligence in his studies. On June 2, 1855, he was ordained a priest in Granada.
He held many positions as a cleric and distinguished himself as an exemplary priest in the midst of his people. Moreover, he was profoundly humble and obedient to his pastors. For many years, he worked as an educator, parish priest in Huetor Santillán and Loja, a preacher of God's word, coworker with other local churches, and a prudent, humble administrator when he served as vicar-general of the Diocese of Málaga.
But the Lord called him to be a founder, that is, to start a path of charity in the midst of the sufferings and poverty that descended upon humanity in the latter part of the 19th century. So, on March 16, 1878, the journey of the Mercedarian Sisters of Charity began. The charity that he lived out and transmitted to others was an incarnate charity -- close to the people, profound, stable, affable, and kind.
Juan Zegrí was a prophet and witness to the love of God, His tenderness and benevolence, until the day he died. Commending himself into the hands of Our Lady of Mercy, he identified with Christ the Redeemer throughout his sorrowful life, to the point of experiencing moral martyrdom. This martyrdom came at the hands of his own spiritual daughters within the congregation he founded. Because of some of the sisters' calumny against him, he had to suffer unjust judgments, against which he defended himself with an upright conscience and justice, suffering for the Church and for the Sisters of Charity without complaining or returning evil for evil. When he was reconciled in 1896, he sent a heartfelt farewell letter to his spiritual daughters so as not to be an obstacle.
Identifying with Christ, he died on March 17, 1905, in Málaga. In 1958, his process of beatification was initiated, and he was declared Venerable in December of 2001 and beatificd in Saint Peter's Square by Pope St. John Paul II on November 9, 2002.