Saint Nunzio Sulprizio, pray for us.
I had the blessing of being able to attend the Mass for the canonization of Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero and to serve as one of the deacons at the Papal Mass. There were several others canonized at the same time, including Pope Paul VI and Mother Nazaria Ignacia March y Mesa who founded a religious congregation in Bolivia as well as the first women’s labor union in Latin America. But learning of the life of Nunzio Sulprizio, one of the others canonized, stirred me.
As we were preparing the murals in the Dulce Nombre Church we had decided to put Saints Isidore and Maria, patrons of farmers, on one part of the wall of the south chapel but had not decided what saint we wanted on the other part. One day I thought of Saint Nunzio, a young man, who suffered abuse as well as physical illness and who worked in a smithy. He seemd a logical choice.
He was a young man who endured hard work. He also suffered from abuse, violence, and illness, I thought of the children who suffer violence and abuse in much of Honduras as well as the children who endure the suffering of cancer and other diseases. I recalled the blacksmiths who abound in Dulce Nombre de Copán.
Saint Nunzio Sulprizio seemed a logical choice for the empty wall I mentioned this to the pastor and he agreed. He now appears opposite Saint Isidor and María in what might now be called the chapel of holy workers.
Nunzio Sulprizio died at 19, his body devastated by gangrene (and, as some sources note, from bone cancer).
Born in Abruzzo, Italy, his parents died when he was six years old. His grandmother raised him and nurtured a profound faith in Nujnzio, but she died three years later. An uncle, who was a blacksmith, took him in and forced him to work in his smithy, even though Nunzio was only nine. His uncle also beat him A wound in his foot developed gangrene.
He was hospitalized for a time; there he was a great comfort to other patients. Yet another uncle learned of Nunzio’s condition and presented him to Félix Wochinger, a military official in Naples, who secured some treatment for his wound. His health improved and he moved from a clinic to the house of Colonel Wochinger. But his health worsened, and he was found to be suffering bone cancer.
He experienced high fevers and intense suffering but maintained his faith. “Jesus suffered much for me. Why can’t I suffer for him?”
He died on May 5, 1836.
He is an apt patron of blacksmiths. But, more than this, I consider him a patron of young people, especially young workers, young people mistreated and abused, and young people suffering from cancer and other serious diseases.