December 12th : Venerable Francis de Paola Tarin, SJ

Venerable Francis de Paola Tarin, SJ

Born : Oct 7, 1847
Died : Dec 12, 1910
Declared Venerable on Jan 3, 1987

Francis de Paola Tarin, the ninth of eleven children, was born in the village of Godelleta near Valencia, Spain. He first studied at his village school before he went to the Piarist Fathers in Valencia. At nineteen, before he embarked to study law at the University of Valencia, his father and him made a trip to Saragossa and visited the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar. While going forward to kiss the pillar like all pilgrims, Francis sensed a desire within him to lead a different and better kind of life.

While studying law in 1869, Francis was afflicted with a lung infection which almost killed him and he was forced to stop his studies. During the next few years while recuperating at home and helping his brothers in their textile business, he became more convinced that God wanted him to be a Jesuit. So known only to his confessor and without telling his parents, Francis left Valencia at the end of August 1873 for the novitiate in southern France since all religious in Spain were forced to leave because of the ongoing revolution. He arrived at Poyanne on October 9, forty days later having traveled 550 miles, mostly on foot. He knocked at the novitiate door and was taken in although the Jesuits did not expect him or knew anything about him. He was admitted as a novice on October 30, 1873.

After pronouncing his simple vows on Nov 1, 1875, Francis returned to Spain for his philosophy at the reopened scholasticate in Carrion de los Condes in the diocese of Palencia and later to Ona for theology before he was ordained there on July 29, 1883.

Fr Tarin began an apostolate among the poor that was to characterize his future as a priest at Ona. He and a companion organized an evening school for the men and boys who lived near the theologate. Apart from teaching them to read, write and basic mathematics, they also offered them religious instruction and enrolled them in our Lady’s sodality.

Fr Tarin left Ona to be assistant dean at Puerto de Santa Maria near Cadiz. It was here that he sustained hard blow in his right ankle from a ball kicked unintentionally by a boy which never healed but gradually worsened and eventually caused his death.

Fr Tarin moved to Madrid in 1888 and spent thirty-five years giving parish missions which lasted eight to fifteenth days and doing thirty-five of these a year. His day would begin at 3.30 am with public recitation of the Rosary in church or in a procession through the village streets followed by songs and prayers, Mass and sermon until time to teach Catechism to the children. In the afternoon, he would visit the sick in their homes or hospitals and preach in prisons, returning for the evening service and sermon and then hearing confessions well into the night. He usually had three to four hours of rest a night and to ensure he had more rest his superior made him the superior of the Jesuit house in Seville to lessen his load.

However Fr Tarin did not take it easy. He started evening classes for adults, opened a house to rehabilitate homeless women, continues his visits to prisons and hospitals and gave novenas in the suburban parishes and soon contracted tuberculosis and pneumonia and his wound in his leg caused him great pain. He recovered from his serious illness and continued with his parish missions which grew for 26 in 1906 to 32 in 1907 until it reached 39 in 1908.

In 1910 he accidentally tripped and his injured leg bled so badly and with no rest it began to hemorrhage. Confined at the Jesuit residence he obeyed his superior’s order to rest and decided to make his own retreat. The infirmarian who attended to his injured leg described it as “a wound from ankle to knee, black and swollen like a leather bottle full of oil.”

When his physician diagnosed his case hopeless, Fr Tarin prepared for his death. On Dec 8, he received his last Sacraments but suffered his agony for another three days before he finally surrendered his soul to his Creator on Dec 12, 1910. His constant prayer during his last moments was: “Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us, inflame our hearts with love for you.”

The sixty-three year old Fr Tarin was buried in Seville’s Sacred Heart and his tombstone aptly read: “Minister of the Gospel, unwearied worker for the salvation of souls.” Fr Tarin’s cause was introduced in Rome on Nov 14, 1934 and he was declared Venerable on Jan 3, 1987.