Feast Day: August 26
Zepherin Namuncura was born in Argentina in 1886, one of 12 children. His father was the Mapuche chief of the Araucanian-speaking Indians of the Argentine Pampas. A few years before Zepherin was born, his mother and several brothers and sisters were captured by European soldiers. In order to have them returned, Zepherin’s father, Manuel, signed a treaty with the army.
As part of the treaty, the tribe was sent high up in the Andes Mountains to live. Manuel, wanting to be sure his children and generations to come would have a secure future, decided that Zepherin would be raised as much like a European as possible. He had him baptized and gave him to a Salesian priest to educate and raise. Zepherin was also sent to military school, but he was mistreated by the other children there.
The priest who was responsible for him had the child transferred to a Salesian mission school, where Zepherin was very happy. He loved the Blessed Mother and prayer the Rosary frequently. When his education was complete, Zepherin announced he wishes to become a priest. He eventually went to Rome to study in 1904, but illness in the form of tuberculosis made this difficult.
Yet Zepherin’s influence on those he met was great. A priest whom he met in Turin later said the young Salesian seminarian had “a heart of gold and sees no evil in anyone…. He loves God like we love our mothers.” Despite his pain, he was smiling, gentle and patient with everyone.
Zepherin died in 1905. His cause for canonization was begun in 1972, and in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI declared him “Blessed.”
Connecting to Be My Disciples®
Grade 4, chapter 14