The Story of Alberto Hurtado, the Persecuted, Saintly Jesuit of Chile

Source: FSSPX News

Fr. Alberto Hurtado.

Who is Alberto Hurtado, the Chilean Jesuit at whose tomb Pope Francis prayed on January 16, 2018, the second day of his Apostolic Journey?


Born in Viña del Mar, Chile, on January 22, 1901, Alberto lost his father at the age of 4. He was raised with his younger brother by their mother, who moved to Santiago, Chile, where he would learn the meaning of poverty. With the help of a scholarship, he studied at the Jesuit college in the capital. He earned a doctorate in law after presenting a thesis on regulations for child labor.

He entered the Jesuits in 1923. After his novitiate in Cordoba (Argentina), he was sent to study philosophy and theology in Spain. He had to leave the country in 1931, after the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed and the Jesuits were expelled. Those were the days of the radical secular politics of Manuel Azaña, president of the Council, who adopted laws on the separation of Church and State and the dissolution of religious orders, the expropriation of convents and the secularization of society (purification of the army, law on divorce, etc.). This fiercely anticlerical policy of destroying the Catholic identity of Spain soon led to the creation of a Popular Front supported by Stalin’s Bolsheviks, then to the civil war of 1936.

Faced with persecution, Alberto Hurtado took refuge in Belgium, where he was ordained a priest in 1933. He returned to Chile three years later, where he began to teach and write. His most famous book was published in 1941: Is Chile a Catholic Country? Fr. Hurtado devoted his zeal to the young, taking over Catholic Action. In 1944, he opened “Christ’s Home” (Hogar de Cristo), with the intent of providing a home for the innumerable children wandering the streets of Santiago. In 1947, he founded the Chilean Trade Union Association to promote trade-unionism inspired by the social doctrine of the Church.

Within a few years he had become a national figure. He died at the age of 51 of pancreatic cancer on August 18, 1952. His last words, in the midst of great suffering, were “I’m content, Lord, I’m content…” Contento, Señor, contento!

“The Mass is my life and my life is a prolonged Mass,” Fr. Hurtado loved to say. He was beatified on October 16, 1994, by John Paul II and canonized by Benedict XVI on October 23, 2005.

With regards to the saints that have recently been raised to the dignity of the altar by the authorities of the Church, the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X has developed a fundamental study on the current evolution of the processes of beatification and canonization. The following link will take the reader to a study by Fr. Jean-Michel Gleize, professor of fundamental theology at the seminary of Econe, written for the canonization of Pope John Paul II. It offers insight and explanations on this important question.

This is also one of the reasons the SSPX prudently continues to follow the traditional liturgical calendar. This way, one does not have to pick and choose from a list in which authentic saints are placed on the same level as promoters of the conciliar revolution and defenders of errors once condemned by the sovereign pontiffs.