Category Archives: Dulce Nombre parish

A saint for young workers

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.

Image of Saint Nunzio at his canonization

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.

Mural of Saint Nunzio in the church of Dulce Nombre de María

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.

Chapel of the holy workers – Maria, Isidore, Nunzio


Yesterday a visitor from Ames and I spent the day with Padre German.

We first went to Mass in Pasquingual where Padre German gave a forceful sermon. What I most remember was his remarks about the reading from the book of Daniel, chapter 5, about the banquet feast where the king used the gold and silver cups and plates of the temple.

Among many points, he suggested that to be eating off of gold and silver plates means that we have gotten all this by oppressing others, from stealing from others. I had never read that passage in that way, but it makes a lot of sense, especially here in Honduras.

After Mass we returned to the parish center where a meal was ready for us – but not on gold plates.

In the afternoon we headed for El Prado de la Cruz for a Mass, remembering a man from the community who had died a year ago. The Mass was delayed because of a community meeting and so we got back to Dulce Nombre late.

Before getting to the parish to pick up my car, Padre wanted to stop to visit an ill older man.

We found where he lived and went to the simple room where this 93 year old man lay on his cot. He was weak and a bit deaf but he was full of life and even joy. His daughter-in-law took care of him since he couldn’t get up and walk.

We stayed around as Padre German talked with him, amazed at his joy despite being confined to bed.

The family brought us coffee and sweat bread.

One of the sons came and his wife, the daughter-in-law explained how she cared for him. She even mentioned that her husband had recently had back surgery.

I could not help thinking about the years where I cared for my father when he was confined to bed for the last years of his life.

I was filled with a deep gratitude for this old man and those who cared for him.

As we drove back to the parish center to pick up my car, tears filled my eyes as I recalled my father and this old man.

They were not tears of sorrow but tears of gratitude – for the woman and her husband who cared for the old man, for the opportunity I had to care for Dad, for the life and deep joy of the man confined to his bed, and for the gift of playfulness that my Dad gave me.

For all this I am grateful – and today just happens to beThanksgiving.

JDand dad001

Dad and I