Roman Catholic Missionary Priest
St. Luis Bertran was a Spanish Dominican priest and missionary. He began by training Dominican novices. During this time he became renowned for his wisdom and skills as a counselor.
Above: Map of the Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Spanish Empire had extended to the New World since the 1492, the first voyage of Christopher Columbus. The history of Conquistadors rampaging across Latin America is well-documented, as are the abuses of basic human rights of the natives by certain Spanish individuals. Into this context the saint arrived in Cartagena, then in the Viceroyalty of New Granada (encompassing, among other present-day nations, Colombia) as a missionary in 1562. For six years he baptized thousands of people in New Granada and Caribbean islands. Among these were slaves. And Bertran spoke out against human rights abuses. In this respect he was one of a line of Spanish priests who recognized the inherent human dignity of slaves, natives, and other despised and exploited peoples.
In 1568 the order recalled St. Luis Bertran to Spain, where he trained missionaries. He was qualified for this task, based on his experiences.
The life of St. Luis Bertran stood for prayer, simple living, and reinforcing words with works. He understood the Epistle of James: orthopraxy must follow orthodoxy. Or rather, if orthodoxy is what it ought to be, it will be identical to orthopraxy. In his case, Bertran understood that to say he loved people as he loved himself required him to behave toward them in certain ways and to protest inhumane treatment of his fellow human beings. That lesson remains germane in all places and at all times.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
SEPTEMBER 8, 2010 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF NIKOLAI GRUNDTVIG
God of grace and glory, we praise you for your servant St. Luis Bertran, who made the good news known in Latin America. Raise up, we pray, in every country, heralds of the gospel, so that the world may know the immeasurable riches of your love, and be drawn to worship you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.