saint ezekiel moreno

From the time he joined the Augustinian Recollects, Saint Ezekiel Moreno was intent on serving in the missions, and this he did for a good part of his life.

Ezekiel Moreno was born in the city of Alfaro, Spain, on 9 April 1848, of poor but committed Christian parents. His early years were seemingly ordinary and uneventful ones in which Ezekiel came to be remembered as an obedient son, a loving brother, a good companion to his friends, and a diligent student.

Saint Ezekiel Moreno by Juan Barba Pena.Following the example of an older brother, he entered the Recollect Congregation of the Augustinian Order in Monteagudo in 1864. After the study of theology and the profession of solemn vows, he and seventeen other young friars set sail for the Philippine Islands, landing at Manila in February 1870. On 5 June 1871 he was ordained a priest, and embarked upon an enthusiastic ministry among the island people which lasted for over fifteen years. In 1885 his superiors recalled him to Spain to become rector of the college and novitiate of Monteagudo, where he remained for three years.

In 1888 he volunteered once again for the missions, this time in Colombia, and was placed in charge of a new effort there to restore the ancient Recollect province of Candelaria with an appointment as prior provincial. Under his leadership the friars began mission work in the difficult Plains of Casanare, reaping much fruit in a brief period of time. On 1 May 1894 Ezekiel was ordained bishop, becoming the first Vicar Apostolic of Casanare, to the great satisfaction of the religious and civic authorities who, together with the people, held him in great esteem. Less than two years later he was promoted to the Metropolitan See of Pasto. During his pastorate there, Colombia was plagued with war from 1899 until 1902. In this difficult situation Bishop Moreno proved himself to be a great defender of the Church and a voice of strength and clarity for his people.

Bishop Moreno was found to be suffering from cancer and was advised by physicians to return to Europe to receive proper treatment. Contrary to his own desire, but upon the insistence of the religious and clergy of the diocese, he departed Pasto in December of 1905 and was operated on in Madrid the following February, and again in March. Recognizing that the end was drawing near he asked to spend his final days in Monteagudo, Spain, where he died on 19 August 1906 in the monastery where he entered the Augustinian Order and served as rector.

His body was interred at Monteagudo, where it remained until 1915 when the process for his canonization began. Bishop Moreno was beatified by Pope Paul VI on 1 November 1975, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, on 11 October 1992, on the occasion of the Fifth Centenary of the Evangelization of the Americas.

His memory is celebrated by the Augustinian Family on the anniversary of his death, 19 August.