November 29th: Venerable Bernard Francis de Hoyos, SJ

Venerable Bernard Francis de Hoyos, SJ

Born: August 21, 1711
Died: November 29, 1735

Bernard was born in Torrelobaton, near Valladolid, Spain. He attended the Jesuit school in Medina del Campo in 1721 and a year later entered their school at Villagarcia. As the Jesuit novitiate was next door, he applied for admission after obtaining his widowed mother’s reluctant permission. The Jesuits rejected his application as he was only fourteen and looked like ten because of his frail health. Bernard was so determined and stayed on in the school, praying hard that he would be accepted one day. His prayer was answered before he was fifteen. He entered the novitiate on July 11, 1726. He was given many extraordinary graces and favours soon after joining as he would receive mystical experiences in which Christ and Our Lady and the saints appeared to him throughout his short life on earth.

After he pronounced his three simple vows on July 12, 1728, he went to Medina del Campo to begin his philosophy and in Sep 1731, he went to St Ambrose College in Valladolid for his theology. Bernard’s extraordinary graces never interfered with his studies and few people knew that he had been so blessed by God as he led a life of a typical Jesuit scholastic, totally given to his studies.

In May 1733, a remarkable change took place in Bernard’s life when a Jesuit friend from Bilbao asked him to translate Fr Joseph de Galifet’s book on the portion “On Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus”. It dealt with the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi and the friend needed it for a sermon. Bernard borrowed the book from the library and began reading it on May 3. It proved very inspiring and he felt an extraordinary and irresistible impulse to go and pray before the Blessed Sacrament and to offer himself to help spread the devotion to Jesus’ Sacred Heart. He later wrote to his spiritual director about this. The following day as Bernard’s desire grew, Our Lord appeared to him telling him that he had been chosen him to be the one to propagate the Sacred Heart devotion in Spain. The Lord continued to appear to him for several days to reveal to him the treasures of His heart as He had previously done to Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque. Jesus assured Bernard that He would be his guide in the mission.

From then on, Bernard’s total concern was in propagating this devotion. He asked priests assigned to parish missions to preach on Christ’s Sacred Heart and introduced the Sodality of the Sacred Heart into Spain and other cities. He wrote to the king and bishops, requesting them to petition the Holy See to extend the Office of the Sacred Heart to Spain. He published The Hidden Treasures, a book on the Sacred Heart and sent copies to members of Spain’s royal family, nobility and to all bishops and higher ecclesiastics. Bernard did all these in parallel with his studies. When it was time for his class to be ordained, Bernard was below the required canonical age of twenty-four but a dispensation was obtained and he was ordained on Jan 2, 1735 as Fr Hoyos.

Fr Hoyos began his tertianship in Sep 1735 in Valladolid and shortly after finishing his thirty-day retreat on Nov 16, 1735, he contracted typhoid. His frequent prayer during his illness was: “Oh, how good it is to dwell in the Heart of Jesus.” He spoke of the Sacred Heart even in his moments of delirium. As his condition worsen, he was anointed on Nov 29 and was able to respond to the prayers. Then he closed his eyes and with a smile on his face he gave his soul to his one and only love.

Fr Hoyos had been a priest for less than a year and never had the opportunity to preach a mission on the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Nevertheless, he is now acknowledged as Spain’s first “Apostle of the Sacred Heart.” For spreading the apostolate during his time on earth. Fr Hoyos’ cause was introduced in Rome on Feb 11, 1914 and on Jan 12, 1996, the decree proclaiming his exercise of heroic virtues was promulgated.