Venerable Fr. Mariano Avellana Lasierra

The Venerable P. Mariano Avellana Lasierra, was born in Almudévar (Huesca – Spain) on April 16, 1844. He was baptized the same day. He received confirmation on April 2, 1851. At 14 he became an external seminarian at the Santa Cruz Seminary in Huesca. At 17 he became an internal seminarian. On December 21, 1867 he was ordained a deacon. On September 19, 1868 he was conferred priestly consecration. On Sept. 11, 1870 he entered the novitiate of the Claretian Missionaries in Prades, France, where the religious, expelled from Spain because of revolution in 1868, had taken refuge. On September 29, 1871, he took religious vows. On Sept. 25, “a blessed and grand day for me”, the Lord favored him with a vision, as a result of which his life, already good, took on a committed direction for the good. On August 1, 1873, he embarked as a missionary for Chile. He arrived there on September 11 with the purpose conceived in the vision and now demurely expressed that he wanted to be “either saint or die.” He was in love with Christ and the Gospel; but, also, devoted to the Heart of Mary. He was in Chile an apostle of giant stature among the poor, the sick and the imprisoned for more than thirty years of tireless missionary life. He committed himself to the apostolate and the exercise of virtues with the greatest zeal, animated by living faith, strong hope and ardent charity, so much so that he was soon given the title “Holy Marian Father.” He died in the reputation of holiness in Carrizal Alto (Chile) on May 14, 1904. Paul VI on January 7, 1972 decreed the introduction of the Cause. With the October 23, 1987 decree on the heroicity of virtues he was called Venerable.


Lord our God, who inflamed your Servant Mariano with your love and made him a zealous Missionary of your Son: grant us, through his intercession, what we ask of you…. and deign to glorify him on earth. Grant that we may know how to imitate his virtues and follow his examples, to seek always and only your greater glory and the salvation of our brethren. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Mariano Avellana Lasierra was born in Almudévar (Huesca – Spain) on April 16, 1844, to Francisco and Raphaela, “farmers of good economic standing and good morals.” Eight siblings. The Avellana family were originally from Nocito, a family emblazoned with a coat of arms bearing a Crucifix on the shield. The Servant of God’s paternal great-grandfather was the first of the Avellanas to settle in Almudévar. The stone coat of arms is still preserved in the ancestral home. Reserved for the Avellana family was the chapel of St. Anne in the parish church. Here Mariano was baptized on the same day of his birth. Relatives still preserve the glass jug for the lustral water used at his baptism and that of others in the family. When he was born, his parents lived on Calle del Medio, No. 14, now Calle Izquierdo, corner of Via Dato. Almudévar stood close to the old castle under the protection of the Patroness N. S. della Corona, venerated in the chapel overlooking the town of three thousand inhabitants, most of them farmers. Besides this shrine and the large parish church, there were two other, smaller ones and a small dispensary. The spiritual life of the village was attended by the parish priest and ten benefactors.

On April 2, 1851, the Servant of God received Confirmation together with his brothers in the parish church from the hands of the then Bishop of Jaca, later Cardinal Archbishop of Santiago, Don Miguel Garcia Cuesta.

He attended the local elementary schools. Teacher Tommaso Lalaguna in 1855 stated, “Mariano has punctually followed my lessons with profit and irreproachable conduct.” Later his parents enrolled him in the middle school of Huesca -today Provincial Museum- where, from 1855 to 1858 he attended to the study of Latin and letters.

From his earliest years in his heart made a deep impression on his love for Our Lady. “You were still very young when I taught you to greet me morning and evening with three Hail Marys”-the Servant of God writes in his notes as he listened to the voice of the Queen of Heaven-. Of the family’s religious environment he assures, “After being a Priest, I owe it to my parents, after God.”


The year 1858 he entered the Seminary of the Holy Cross in Huesca as an external student. In 1861 he remains there as an intern. The last years of his career he spent in the Auxiliary Section of the Seminary of Sesa: Our Lady de la Jarea. On September 19, 1868 in Huesca he is ordained a priest by Bishop Basilio Gil Bueno in the chapel of the Bishop’s Palace, where, already before, he had received from the same relato the other sacred orders.

September 19, 1868: Important date in the history of Spain. In Cádiz, having raised the naval squadron, Prim proclaims the Revolutionary Manifesto: “Spain with honor.” Thus begins the September Revolution. “The Glorious One,”with many sad consequences for the Nation and the Church. The Bishop of Huesca is driven out of his diocese the closed seminary. The final year of his studies the new Priest is forced to receive private lessons at the professors’ homes.

Father Mariano, of tall stature, fine manners, strong and energetic character, jovial of manner, elegant and assertive, also possessed a powerful and impressive voice. Singing the Gospel at his ordination as a Deacon, the Bishop was surprised. He appointed him Beneficial Subdeacon of the Church of St. Peter the Elder in Huesca.

He enrolled in the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, of the Heavenly Scapular, of the Holy Trinity, and of the Sabatine Reparation. According to witnesses in the Trial, he was exemplary and observant of priestly duties, without any special or extraordinary signs. Recalling that on the day of his first Mass he wanted a lunch to be given to the poor of the village. So, too: he distinguished himself in kindness to the needy, whom he helped generously. It happened that, having nothing else to offer, he took off his cassock and gave it to a poor man.


In 1868 the Missionaries of the Heart of Mary settled in Huesca. From their House – Mission at the Capuchin Church, they carried out an intense apostolate: missions, exercises to the clergy, spiritual direction, retreats to the Seminary. In 1867, while still a seminarian the Servant of God, they held a mission to his village of Almudévar by Fathers Giuseppe Serra to Ilario Brossosa. Approaching the missionaries frequently, he felt God’s call to religious and missionary life.

On September 7, 1870, he was on his way to the Claretian Novitiate in Prades. Only his aunt Marianna Avellana, a virtuous woman with a reputation as a saint, resident en Almudévar, was aware of that decision. She helped him with the expenses for the trip to France. He would never return to his country again, although he would carry it deeply engraved in his heart. Likewise, he would never see Huesca again either. It is impressive to read in his spiritual notebooks the very long list of people for whom he prayed every day: family members, friends, acquaintances from the village, fellow seminarians and parish members, canons, benefactors, authorities, forgetting no one, from the Prelate by whom he was ordained a Priest to the carter who brought packages and vegetables from Almudévar to Huesca sent to him by his parents and relatives.


In the Claretian Novitiate in Prades, Fr. Mariano began a new life. The house was cramped, insufficient. The Missionaries of the Congregation had taken temporary refuge there while waiting for better times to return to Spain. Religious observance was in full force.

Father’s Aragonese tenacity, his total dedication to the divine will triumphed over the no small difficulties that came his way: sleep, hunger, sensuality. “All his life he had to struggle violently, as if he had been a recent convert, against sensuality. He always felt hunger or desire to eat despite his daily fasts. He was always sleepy and craving for comfort, as if the use of mortifications could not fit his temperament. He was determined, however, to become a saint. In the Novitiate he formulated a great purpose: “the purpose of my whole life is to perform ordinary actions with perfection.” “The religious must work,” he said, “not by the day but by piecework. ” September 29, 1871 he made his religious profession in the hands of Rev. Fr. Joseph Xifrè.

Shortly afterwards the Superiors assigned him to the new foundation in Thuir (France). It is a pity that Fr. Mariano is so spare in talking about himself in his spiritual notes. In them, however, an extraordinary grace is recalled: the vision he had on September 25, 1872. G he was presented with the greatness, loving-kindness and mercy of the Lord in the face of his poverty, meanness and misery. “A great day,” he wrote, “a happy day…. Remember how you saw yourself…. Always remember that you promised God that day that you would faithfully and exactly observe the rules and resolutions you would make, imitating the generous ‘resolution and magnanimity of heart -of St. Augustine … (Perhaps the Saints had more health and robustness than yours?) I am willing to suffer what You will. If my Superiors ask me, I would gladly suffer even death for You …

In 1873 he was destined for Chile. Before his departure, Fr. Mariano on his knees before the whole Community gathered in the refectory, asked those present for prayers that he might always live the ideal he had proposed since his Novitiate: “O Holy O Death! .” Some could not hide a smile upon hearing the unexpected and decisive resolution of that Aragonese missionary. Everyone, however, was deeply impressed. Fr. Mariano was resolved to become a saint at any cost.

For Chile, the missionaries embarked on August 10 and arrived there a month later.


Fr. Mariano arrived in Santiago on September 11, 1873. He was 29 years old. The rest of his life-another 30-was about to be spent in the Chilean nation in intense missionary activity without a break, without a day’s vacation, without returning to his homeland, going from village to village, from hospital to hospital, from prison to prison, throughout the long and rugged geography of Chile, particularly in the mining regions of the North. He is considered the great apostle of northern Chile. More than 30 years a tireless missionary: from Concepción to Antofagasta.

It is not easy to imagine how burdensome it was, at the end of the last century, to travel the towns and cities of Chile, “a troubled geography” for its 4,200 kilometers from one extreme to the other for its mountains and volcanoes, both, albeit with their beautiful vistas, especially the central and southern ones, for the impressive deserts of the North, from La Serena to Arica having miliaria of kilometers devoid of vegetation. The Atacama Desert is the driest and driest area on our planet. Locations with no light or comfort whatsoever, with huge distances from each other. Even today there are parishes with more than 100 km. of extension. Saltpeter mines scattered in horrid locations. Very often the Missionaries had to go on horseback long days, very dangerous One case in point: to go from Ovalle to the mission de Franquilla, Fr. Mariano and his companions had to travel 73 leagues of very hard crossing.

Fortunately, it is possible for us to follow the Servant of God year by year in his apostolic raids carefully noted in the ministry books of the Claretian Communities where he was destined: Santiago La Serena, Valparaiso, Curicó and Coquimbo. In some of them he was Superior, albeit for a few years. The total number of his missions exceeds 534, in addition to Exercises, Retreats, Catechesis, various preaching, Novenas, visits to hospitals and prisons, lectures to Religious. It is no exaggeration to state -according to documents and statements- that Fr. Mariano’s sermons exceed 20,000.

As soon as he arrived in Chile in September 1873, he began his missions. At first he found no small difficulty in preparing the talks. But already in the last three months of said year he preached seven missions: Colina, Doñigue, Coltauco, Pichidegua, Peumo Alhuè and at the Aculeo Fund, where ‘over 12,000 people went to confession. In La Serena he arrived in January 1880 and as early as February began his work, which ended that year with no less than fifteen missions! A fellow worker informs, “Fr. Mariano in his stay in the city, so had distributed his apostolic activities that: every day he visited the hospital; Mondays the prisons; Tuesdays the Máquinas ward; Thursdays the cemetery area; Saturdays Santa Lucia. In all those places he prayed the Rosary every day and taught catechism.”

In 1882 he gave 23 missions, in addition to spiritual assistance to the Coquimbo Battalion, prisoners and the sick.

His preaching was simple. His God-given stentorian voice helped him tremendously. So did the robust health, which was almost never affected. The illnesses with which the Lord tested him were no impediment to his ministries. Persuaded,” writes Fr. Santisteban, his companion in various ministries, “that religious ignorance was one of the greatest evils, in his sermons he sought rather to teach than to move.

The sufferings and trials endured by Fr. Avellana, only God knows. They were many and impressive. In the missionary campaign in Copiapó he once could not hide his concern and said publicly, “In the North the power of the devil is less opposed than in the center and South of the Republic.”

With Fr. Ruiz he embarked in Coquimbo. Near their cabin were merchants, who uttered insulting words against religion. Fr. Mariano could not contain himself. While his companion wanted to restrain him from reacting, he suddenly came out and confronted the slanderers with the full force of his voice: “Wretches! How dare you blaspheme and offend God?…. If you do not keep silent, I will take you by the throat and put you with your heads in the coals!” Those fellows were so frightened that they did not return for the whole trip. AT the end of the mission to Cerro Blanco on the way down to Copiapó, the horses separated and the axle of the carriage broke. Fr. Mariano remained himself on the ground, unconscious, for a long time. His companion, with his fractured arm, instantly imagined Fr. Mariano dead. But the latter, coming back to himself, exclaimed, “I told you that here the demons have more freedom.”

Once and a thousand times the Servant of God repeated, “God is calling me to the missions.” According to Brother Sazo in the Process of Beatification, “His dominant passion was the conversion of souls. He missed no opportunity to obtain it. He once confided to me that if they had called him to confess a sick person, although warned that an assassin was waiting at the door to kill him, he would not have doubted for a moment to go and confess that sick person.”


Fr. Mariano’s holy obsession was prisons and hospitals. Some testimonies from the Trial suffice. “Hospitals and prisons constituted the main object of his priestly commitments.” “He spent his whole life in the service of his neighbor: in the missions, in prisons, in hospitals.” “Visiting hospitals and confessing the sick was a holy recreation for him.” “Tireless in serving the sick, when he was in the city every day he unfailingly went to the hospitals.” “Love and affection for the sick in the hospital he had them constantly all his life, to the point that as soon as he returned from the missions, even when tired, he would leave his things in his room and immediately run to the Superior to ask his permission to visit his dear sick loved ones in the hospital.” “Fr. Mariano’s love, tenderness, and solicitude for hospitals were known to all. He said to me one day, ‘Father, become attached to the hospitals. Only God and I know the great consolations I found in them.” “There was no hospital or prison in Chile that the holy Father Mariano had not visited.” “He had from God a most special grace to comfort the sick.”

Not content with visiting hospitals, he asked the Superiors to be called him at night to bring the Sacraments to the sick or dying instead of some other Father in the Community.

I n a letter to his niece, Sister Sebastiana, Religious of the Charity of St. Anne, he wrote to her, “I recommend to you two important virtues in dealing with the people in the hospital, besides charity, which must be your favored virtue; modesty and gentleness. With the first you will edify everyone; with the second you will win hearts to God.”

For two years the Servant of God was Superior of the Claretian Community of Valparaiso and in charge of the city’s hospital. During this time-as the parish records show-he personally united in holy matrimony more than one hundred and twenty couples at the hospital, where an average of 600 people a day were admitted at the time. There was every class of sick people there: soldiers, sailors, convicts, harlots, adventurers…. Great and resounding conversions obtained by Fr. Mariano. The Sisters of Charity, to whose care the hospital was entrusted, attest, “While he was chaplain, no sick person died without Sacraments.” And he himself in a letter writes with simplicity, “In my time no one died unrepentant.”

“I stayed with him in Valparaiso,” states Brother Sazo, a Claretian, “and accompanied him several times…. He assisted the sick with great attention, lending himself to the humblest services: he combed them, shaved their beards, cleaned them up. To entertain them he would take up singing. On weekdays he would recite the Rosary on his knees in each of the eight halls. Besides that, on holidays and Sundays he would preach to them seven to eight times from ward to ward. He would confess them… He always carried the Crucifix, kissed it and had them kissed. Seeing Fr. Mariano in the hospital was like seeing a saint….”

With all truth, Fr. Alduàn could write in the biography of another Claretian, Fr. Vallier, also an apostle in Chile at the time: “At the hospital in Valparaiso the memory of the one whom we hope to see soon on the altars, the holy Fr. Mariano, who worked wonders of zeal and charity, will remain eternal. To see equal saints again, it would be necessary to bring back to those halls a St. John of God or a St. Camillus de Lellis.”

Like the hospitals, there was no prison or penitentiary in Chile not visited by Fr. Mariano.

In the missions he went there every day or almost every day where he resided to preach and console the inmates. The Servant of God himself recounts his spiritual assistance to a man sentenced to death in Valparaiso. He was shot in the prison courtyard, a large audience present. The executed man had asked Fr. Mariano to ask forgiveness in his name from all those present. He did so. Immediately after the execution, he addressed some very impressive words to them. The press of Valparaiso reported the news the following day highlighting the apostolic zeal of that missionary.

In the city La Serena-we read in the Trial-“the Marian knowing the poor packaging of the prison meals, he asked me for charity to help the inmates with some alms … The Servant of God told me that they, on leaving the prison, went to thank him for the services rendered to them, with a promise to change their lives.

Again, “Fr. Mariano, learning of the innocence of a prisoner, went in person to the President of the Republic. On his knees he asked him for his release. Out of respect for him, the President granted it.”


The Lord tried His Servant with three painful illnesses. One day, suddenly, a small abscess opened in his right leg. Blood flowed out of it without being able to stop it immediately. He thought he was dying. Finally the doctor was able to tamponade it. The wound, however, did not close completely and kept opening more and more, causing horror to those who looked at it. It was not understood how he could continue to work and walk in that state. Nonetheless, the Servant of God never ceased his activity: he walked, knelt, stood long stretches; he mounted his horse on the long and very hard days from one country to another in the missions. “The wound did not heal for the rest of his life,”-he confided to Brother Nurse. He was certain that he would never again heal from that wound, which was bigger than an open hand.” I was always horrified by that dark, living flesh, which he covered with a bandage.” He called the sore, “a gift from God.” In healing it he never complained, making the
sign of the cross at the beginning and at the end.

Seeing that frightening sore, a Father exclaimed, “She lives by a miracle.” The Servant of God immediately noted in his notes, “I must therefore be all of God.” On the other hand, except for his confessor and Superiors, no one knew that the herpes gave him such physical and moral ailments for many years that it constituted a constant and intense martyrdom for him.

Preaching in 1895 to inmates in the courtyard of the Curicó prison, he had a sudden attack of facial paresis. He was left with a twisted mouth and severe difficulty in speaking. Terrible was his distress. He felt first and foremost that he was a missionary: would he be able to continue preaching? Resigned to the divine will, he complied with medical prescriptions. He doubled his prayers. Many times a day he beat his face with nettles. He struggled to pronounce. Gradually he recovered and was able to resume his missionary activity until the end of his days:

All these sufferings and many more seemed little to him while achieving his missionary ideal. “Humble me, Lord,” he repeated, “but save souls!”


The Bishop of La Serena, Dr. Fontecilla, a good connoisseur of the Servant of God, attested, “People call Fr. Mariano: “The Holy Father Mariano and he speaks the truth.” In all that Bishopric he is called only that. Brother Marcé, a Claretian, whose cause for Beatification is also introduced, also affirmed, “I always considered him a saint and that is what many others called him: “The Holy Marian Father.”

As for his natural qualities, the Servant of God was cultured, task, of beautiful presence, with fineness of features and speech, to make him respectable, meek, humble, charitable, self-sacrificing to the point of heroism, a friend of the angels and a father of the poor, without earthly attachments. “Without ever knowing more and more of his heroic virtue. The living genius and violent character remembered him only by those who had known him as a young man. I n this agree those who lived with him.” “He was the same meekness, though violent in character.” “One of the attractions of Fr. Mariano: the candor, the transparent simplicity from his face….” “In the time when I knew him I do not remember having found in him the slightest fault against the Commandments or the Rules.” “They say he had a violent temper, but I never noticed this. Instead, I noticed in his traits much gentleness and humility.”

As early as the Novitiate he formulated an irrevocable decision with his famous saying, “0 Holy or dead’: He had to be holy, without any bargaining either with external or internal enemies. This is what he frequently repeated in his spiritual notes and resolutions that ended with the phrase, “In this there is nothing else. Doing the things of God’s will and doing them badly, imperfectly, did not enter his mind. He used to say, “I am more afraid of one venial sin than of all illnesses, persecutions or temporal misfortunes.” The secret of Fr. Mariano’s holiness was: to do everything well.

He invariably gathered in spiritual retreat twice a month. Even in the missions he found time to spend hours before the Blessed Sacrament. He often spent the night in prayer.

How many times did the faithful catch him with his arms crossed before the altar and surrounded by splendors with his body in ecstasy during the celebration of Holy Mass! He had a very great devotion to the Holy Trinity. Every day he recited the Trisagion, the Holy Rosary, often visited the Blessed Sacrament. He would also say the Crown of Our Lady’s Seven Sorrows. She made the Novena of the Heart of Mary for the conversion of sinners, the Novena of the Grace of St. Francis Xavier and kept other special devotions. On the coffee table in her room was always a picture of Jesus with the cross on his shoulders. But the favorite devotion was the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It could not be otherwise, knowing himself to be the Son of her Heart. Always with the Rosary in his hand, he recited it in public or in Church, clad in surplice, to give it greater solemnity. He constantly recommended it. He even asked the Superiors of the Congregation that all Missionaries wear it on their habit. He was also very devoted to St. Joseph, the Guardian Angels, great Missionary Saints, such as St. Francis Xavier, and Hospitaller Saints, such as St. John of God and St. Camillus de Lellis… He bore an extraordinary devotion to St. Teresa of Jesus, whom he constantly mentioned in sermons and writings. He had made a resolution to read every day some passage from the works of the Saint; so also of St. Thomas Aquinas. His favorite book in Santiago was “The Great Woman Teresa of Jesus,”an edition prepared and commented on by today Blessed Enrico Ossò.

The Lord and Our Lady often consoled him with enlightenments and graces marked diligently in the notes. He had taken so seriously the exercise of God’s presence that, having spent an hour without thinking of Him, perhaps because he was busy with the occupations of Superior, he bitterly resumed himself and, repentant, turned to the Lord: “Forgive me, O my God. So much time without thinking of You!”

On October 15, 1884 he proposed to do what was most perfect. Not long afterwards he committed himself to it with a vow, to be renewed on the feasts of Mary. A light of the Lord carefully noted, “The slackness of Communities depends on the non-observance of Superiors, as does observance on their good example.” Convinced of this truth, he so esteemed the Constitutions of his Congregation that he knelt and kissed them with affection and devotion as he took them in his hand.

“His notes, laconic as they are, have some moving and sublime touches,” writes biographer Fr. M. Alduàn. The Servant of God, like St. Paul, could take no more with the sting of the flesh. From the Lord he received an inspiration: “Conformity to my will must go so far as to resign you to not getting what you desire. I do not want to grant you angelic chastity, but to suffer terrible temptations … Be patient Believe: it is better not to worry or complain if you do not have the purity of saints and angels …”

Early in 1891, in the mission of Sotaqui, God favored him with a very special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On September 4 of that year He made it clear to him: if he wanted to be His disciple, he had to carry the cross always without ever complaining (and here he recalls his illnesses).

Not a few were his penances, in addition to the aforementioned infirmities: daily discipline, cilice twice a week at least, not satisfying thirst, praying standing, drinking little, leaving part of his food lunch and dinner every day, getting up at three in the morning. All this seemed little to him and he asked the Superiors for even more.

On May 18, 1900, during the Graneros mission, Fr. Mariano made the vow of sacrifice. He wrote it on a detached piece of paper, dated and signed, which he always carried with him. “Almighty and eternal God … I pledge myself with a perpetual vow of sacrifice, to renew once a day to your divine Majesty the offering of my pains and my life for the salvation of souls. I n particular. I also pledge myself with the same vow to bear patiently without murmuring the sufferings and death; to ask you daily to accept me as a victim; to lead me in the way of the Cross and the sorrows of your divine Son … Agonizing Heart of Jesus, victim of love for us, deign to unite me to Your holy dispositions, especially those You had in the Garden of Olives and on the Cross. Offer me in sacrifice with You to the Heavenly Father as a holocaust of pleasing odor. Compassionate Heart of Mary, propitiate me so that I may faithfully fulfill my promises; beseech the Holy Spirit to grant me His most abundant blessings. Amen.”


Five years before his death, Fr. Mariano, desiring greater perfection wrote to his Superiors expounding what was in his heart. So that they might know his spirit better, with all simplicity and humility he presents the panorama of his soul. The letter was published in the Annals of the Congregation shortly after his death so that they might admire the spirit and imitate the examples of the Servant of God. We excerpt a few paragraphs.

Pulpit. – Never did I go up there on the venture. I always preached prepared or of things known.

Divine Office. – I have never left it. I always recite it standing and, if it is possible for me, before the Blessed Sacrament. If I say it alone, I walk the Stations of the Cross.

Missions. – For my part, I always confess the men; although I procure that the other Fathers also confess them by turns. If, however, I see them getting tired or notice treatment that is not in keeping with charity,
I prudently try to relieve them. Ordinarily I direct the Rosary publicly. I see to it that no one omits thanksgiving after Communion. In the missions that are not very crowded, if there is a lack of those who do it, I help them myself; in the numerous ones, however, I always find someone to lend themselves: this is providential. The Lord gives me so much good will and strength to overcome all difficulties in these ministries, thinking that God’s glory is sought. If I were told it was God’s will to always preach missions by fasting, not eating meat or drinking wine, etc. … immediately and with the greatest pleasure I would repeat with the prophet Isaiah, “Ecce ego, mitte me”: Here I am, send me.”

Rising. – It will be about seventeen or eighteen years that I get up at 3:30 in the morning. However, in mission time, if we sleep in the same room, so as not to disturb I recite on my knees in bed two parts of the Rosary. Sometimes and only for some days I have been allowed to get up at three o’clock.

Aches and pains. – For five or six years I have been suffering from a leg … For many years a herpetic mood … And for a little over three years I had an attack of facial paresis, with after-effects that lasted forever. Thank God, everything is compatible with apostolic work, as I understand from experience. In this I discern a special providence of the Lord, a great protection of the Blessed Mary, the Angels and the Saints.

Hospitals. – When I go to the hospital I always preach and confess. I have confessed thousands of sick people and have done so for 26 years when circumstances allowed me to do so. I never drank a glass of water, minus two times I took some insignificant thing finding myself indisposed.

Masses. – I always prepare myself. I in thanksgiving I listen to another Mass. In commitments I do a quarter-hour thanksgiving. Since my stay in Santiago (three years) I barely confess; so I can listen to a few Masses, reciting the Office or other devotions. That works very well for me.

Time. – I try to take advantage of it. I wish I could have more of it…. -rushing it to sleep! I really love the study.

Forces. – I seldom get tired. How often in strenuous missions or hospitals I say to myself, “Oh, if I could go on at least another couple of hours or until I get tired!”

Holy indifference. – Never have I asked to change my home or occupation. Holy obedience is my north.

Confessions. – I think I have not gone eight days without confession in the congregation. Rarely, for peace of mind, I did it twice in a week.

Superiors. – I try to consider them as Representatives of God, as they really are. To each Superior, immediate or other House, I write on my knees if I can.

Clearness of Conscience. – I do not know that I have concealed anything important, whether mine or others, from those I was bound to report.

Defects. – I have had and have many; but, following the example of Fr. La Puente, I never make peace with them. First: I ask forgiveness of the offended. Second: if I am allowed, in public. Third: I confess. Since I have been in the congregation, my conscience does not remonstrate that I have ever committed a grave sin. How much I must thank the Lord for such great mercy!

External mortification. – I spend whole years without taking anything between meals. I have never left cilizi and discipline except in sickness.

Poverty. – On my own I would eat what others left behind. I would always go in third-class trains. Since my entry into the congregation I have never used new hats, breviaries or anything else…. and if I sometimes used skirts, new pants, etc., it was because I could not have anything else.

Devotions. – I never neglect them; only in the time of busy missions… as well as the obligatory half-hour of prayer, which I ordinarily make up for by listening to a Holy Mass.

Orations, readings, examinations. Itinerary. – I have never neglected these practices, doing so in one way or another. On horseback rides, sometimes of an entire day, I make up for them with the Rosary, ejaculators, etc. In the train I apologize to companions or strangers who speak to me … And so I attend to my devotions.

Propositions. – I think I have left no week to read them, and, anticipating that I have no time, I read them twice the week before. Always and under all circumstances I make resolutions. If new or about forgotten things; I write them down. This has been of great benefit to me.

Lives of Saints. – I like them very much. I have a holy envy that I cannot imitate them in their virtues, especially in works of zeal.

Fraternal Charity. – Never have I had friendships or enmities inside or outside the congregation.

I believe what I have said is sufficient for one to understand what spirit has guided me since I had the great joy of entering our beloved Congregation.

My dear Fathers: I am persuaded that, after God, I owe everything to my Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, to my Guardian Angel, to several Saints of my devotion, to the souls in Purgatory and in a
particular to our Ven. Founder. Therefore I must be most grateful for such distinguished favor, observing this rule of life in penance of my great sins.

The experience of the past teaches me not to abuse in the future. Thus I hope from God’s mercy. Never have I had any difficulty in doing so; I have lived very quietly And if at times, out of human respect, imprudence or indolence I have neglected anything of my purposes, I have felt deep sorrow. So much, soon I must leave everything! Old age and death later will take possession of my humble self. Therefore, in the name of the Lord, I ask:

  • Holy freedom to work for the glory of God…
  • .

  • To rise at three o’clock in the morning; leave supper–I would fast it always. Let me try out for a year or a half: they will see how the Lord favors me.
  • If my immediate Superiors do not agree with my wishes, let this writing of mine be forwarded intact to the General Government of the Congregation, so that, with its more impartial and enlightened criterion, it may be better known what God’s will is; thus I will remain tranquil with his divine grace.
  • Always occupy the last place in the House where obedience destines me.
  • And, finally I ask and desire with all my soul that; resolved in favor or not these desires of mine…the fried be torn up. Let no more be spoken in my favor either living or dead. “Soli Deo honor et gloria.” My harvest is nothing and sin, as the Faith affirms it and the experience of my whole life proves it.”


On Jan. 13, 1903, the new Claretian House-Mission was solemnly inaugurated in Coquimbo, in St. Louis Church. The Prelate of La Serena presided over the rite. To this Community was destined Fr. Mariano. It was his last destination. The people already knew him. Of note is the fact that, the following day, the newspaper “The Commerce” of La Serena, describing the ceremony of the taking of possession, published these significant notes:

“You prisoners of Coquimbo. Yesterday itself finished the festivities, you were able to hear the voice of the holy Fr. Mariano (this is the name by which he is known and called from Antofagasta to the Archipelago) that from now on you will have daily in your company to bring comfort and conformity to your hearts. Sick people of the hospital, every moment Fr. Mariano will be at your bedside to spread the balm of consolation on your souls, dry your tears, soothe your pains and calm your consciences….”

So it was in fact. The Servant of God continued unabated in the missions, particularly on the Guayacán Farm and with the Religious of the Good Shepherd of La Serena. By now he foresaw the end approaching. To more than one person he said: “he was going to die like a good soldier on the battlefield.” “Several times he confided to me that he was going to die in a hospital”-states a witness at the Trial. And to his fellow missionary, Fr. Anselmo Santisteban, in taking leave for his new destination: ‘Goodbye. Fr. Anselmo. From Coquimbo to heaven.”

On Tuesday, April 12, 1904, he embarked on the ship Pizarro along with Fr. Medina. They reached Huasco the following day where they celebrated Holy Mass. At night they went down to Caldera and from there passed on to Copiapo. They preached missions in Chañarcillo, Los Loros and S. Antonio. After a long and painful journey to Cerro Bianco, they began a fourth mission on May 2. Fr. Mariano was given a shady horse, unbeknownst to him, which, halfway there, threw him to the ground without apparent consequences. Perhaps this fall was the cause of the sickness that befell him two days later. On May 4, 1904, after preaching in the morning on the devotion to St. Joseph and in the evening on the Rosary, he had to go to bed. Some imagine a cold from the previous day he had in going from house to house inviting people to the mission. On the 5th he got up to celebrate. In the church, while with great fervor praying together with the faithful during Fr. Medina’s Mass, he was seized by a strong attack as he collapsed on the kneeler. He was immediately transported to the house where he was staying. High fever, out of consciousness. The doctor was missing. The pharmacist assisted him. Returning to his senses, he did not allow the mission to be interrupted. As the illness worsened, he had to be transported to Carrizal Alto. He asked for Viaticum and the Anointing of the Sick. In the absence of carriages, it was not possible to take him on horseback. They prepared, therefore, a carriage as comfortable as possible. Moving was the exit from the village. As the carriage slowly moved, people all around wept, kissed his Crucifix, his hands, addressing him words interspersed with greetings, and Fr. Mariano all blessed. The people who esteemed him as a saint were deeply impressed to learn this detail: upon removing his robes to put him to bed after the attack, they found on him a large gall all around his body and so penetrated into the flesh that it cost effort to tear it off.

From Yerba Buena station they took him by train to Carrizal Alto, a mining town of two thousand inhabitants, where. Father preached several missions. Arriving at the hospital where he had comforted so many sick people, he exclaimed, “God be blessed! I have arrived at my home. All my life I have asked the Lord for the grace to die in a hospital, and now I get it.” The doctor diagnosed: pneumonia. Fr. Mariano thanked him cordially for his services. Then he added, “Everything you do for me is useless: I must die. I await glory from the Lord.” At Vespers of the Ascension he again received Viaticum and Extreme Unction. He did not cease to recommend prayer, the Holy Rosary and the ejaculation, “Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.” Having received the Papal Blessing, she put her soul back into God’s hands at 1 a.m. on Saturday, May 14, 1904. She was 60 years and 28 days old. A solemn funeral was held with the participation of the whole village. In the humble cemetery he was placed in a borrowed grave. Everywhere ran from mouth to mouth the same comment: “Saint Fr. Mariano has died.” On the coffin: 14 wreaths of flowers. Moving words from the parish priest of Carrizal Alto, picked up by the press: “There was no prison or hospital that he did not visit. There is perhaps no other religious in Chile who knew the poor and the unfortunate better than he did. He traveled our soil from Aracaunia to Tarapacá, fulfilling his holy mission of teaching good morals and right living to almost all the inhabitants of this nation. His most powerful voice was a consolation to those who were fortunate enough to hear him.”

Ten years later his remains were transferred to the Church of the Claretians in La Serena, the church of so many of his years of apostolic labors.

A simple white marble slab bore the epitaph:

“To the Servant of God R. Fr. Mariano Avellana C.M.F., Holy Missionary, Most Pious with God, Austere with Himself, Charitable to the Poor, Tireless Apostle of Souls. who died at Carrizal Alto on May 14, 1904, his Missionary Brothers and his innumerable devotees, dedicate this memorial.”

In 1919 the Ordinary Trial on the fame, virtues and miracles of the Servant of God began in La Serena. Three more additional Processes in Santiago de Chile, Rosario of Santa Fe and in his native Diocese of Huesca completed the information material. Paul VI on January 7, 1972 decreed the introduction of the Cause. His remains were recently brought to the Basilica of the Heart of Mary in Santiago de Chile, where Fr. Mariano so many years exercised the apostolate.

One cannot count the number of devotees favored by special graces obtained by invoking the powerful intercession of the holy Fr. Mariano. (Author: Fr. Federico Gutiérrez)

Those who wish to communicate graces received through the intercession of the Servant of God may contact any House of the Claretian Missionaries, especially the following direction:

  1. Postulator General – Claretian Missionaries.
    Via del Sacro Cuore di Maria 5

00197 R O M A