Born of humble parents in Santander, Spain, he became a Franciscan priest and served as a missionary in Damascus. This was at a time when anti-Christian riots shook Syria and thousands lost their lives in just a short time.
Among these were Emmanuel, superior of the Franciscan convent, seven other friars, and three laymen. When a menacing crowd came looking for the men, they refused to renounce their faith and become Muslims. The men were subjected to horrible tortures before their martyrdom.
Emmanuel, his brother Franciscans and the three Maronite laymen
were beatified in 1926 by Pope Pius XI.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
The world is getting gradually better or decidedly worse. It all depends on who you ask. Either humanity is becoming the best version of itself, or we are devolving into depravity. Maybe, in fact, we are exactly as flawed and beautiful, as selfish and selfless, as capable of cruelty and generosity as we have always been. We are still troubled, after all, and as much in need of God as ever. We need protection and guidance, as individuals and as a “herd.” We need to shut out the noisy bleating of the other sheep and listen for the voice of our Good Shepherd. We need to lift our heads, look to the Lord and follow where he leads. We can move confidently then, knowing he will show us the right path—the one that leads us to where we were made to go. Good Shepherd, lead me and I will follow.