Bl. José Olallo Valdés

Hospitaller Religious
Memorial : 7 March

Blessed José Olallo Valdés was born in Havana, Cuba, on 12 February 1820. Son of unknown parents, he was entrusted to the care of St. Joseph's Orphanage in Havana, where he was baptized on 15 March 1820. He lived and studied at the Children's Home and the Charity House, becoming a serious and responsible boy. When he was a young teenager he entered the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God in the community of Sts Philip and James in Havana.

Despite many obstacles, he constantly upheld his decision, making profession as a religious Hospitaller. In April of 1835 he was transferred to the city of Puerto Principe (today Camaguey), in the St. John of God Hospital, where he spent the rest of his life dedicated to serving the sick as an exemplary son of his spiritual father, St. John of God. In 54 years he was absent from the hospital only one night, and for reasons independent of his will. Initially he served as an assistant nurse, then at age 25 he became "head nurse" and later, in 1856, the community's superior.

During a period of suppression of religious Orders by liberal Spanish rule, which also brought about the confiscation of ecclesiastical property, Brother Jose lived his consecrated life facing great sacrifices and difficulties with uprightness and strength of spirit. From 1876, when his last companion Brother died, to 1889, the year of his death, he lived alone working to serve the sick, always faithful to God, to his conscience, to his vocation and charism.

During the 10 Years' War (1868-78), he proved courageous while working for the good of everyone and caring for the patients, but with preference to the most weak and poor. He put his life in jeopardy during times of difficulty, helping the slaves, defending the hospital, etc. He also defended with "sweet firmness" all those without government permission to be treated, regardless of their social or political backgrounds during a period of civil war. This gained him the respect of military authorities and thus he was able to intercede for the people of Camaguey, without succumbing to intimidation by threats or prohibitions, and in this way prevented a civil massacre.

His apostolate was aimed to assist the dying whom he accompanied in the last hours of their lives, on the journey towards eternity. For his unbounded goodness he was nicknamed "apostle of charity" and "father of the poor" which summarizes well Bl. Jose's altruism, lived in perfect conformity to the charism of hospitality.

Brother Olallo Valdes' death on 7 March 1889 was considered the death of a just man, of a Saint. With his passing the fame of his holiness increased daily, mainly among the people of Camaguey, who attributed graces and continuing help to his intercession.

Later, the recovery of a 3-year-old child. Daniela Cabrera Ramos was recognized as a true miracle by His Holiness Benedict xvi with the Decree promulgated on 15 March 2008.

Brother Olallo Valdés' beatification ceremony took place in the city of Camaguey, Cuba, on 29 November 2008, presided by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

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