Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba, Spain, is inviting the faithful to make a pilgrimage to Rome and attend the Oct. 7 ceremony in which Pope Benedict XVI will declare St. John of Avila a doctor of the Church.
“I invite all of you who can to make an effort to come and live this great event in Rome, together with the Pope, whom we thank for this great honor he is granting us before the entire Church. Dear priests, he is one of ours!” the bishop said in a message released Aug. 31.
Bishop Fernandez noted that, during the same ceremony, Benedict XVI will also declare St. Hildegard of Germany a doctor of the Church.
The new title that will be bestowed on St. John of Avila is a great gift and challenge for the Diocese of Cordoba because it is called to keep the legacy of the Spanish saint alive to inspire others to a life of holiness, the bishop said.
Bishop Fernandez also announced that a special Jubilee Year will begin on Oct. 12 to mark the occasion.
The city of Montilla, he noted, was the last place where St. John of Avila lived, wrote and offered spiritual direction.
“His home is there, his office, his chapel, where the fire of love for Jesus Christ shines forth. The greatest saints of the day came to that house, either in person or by letter. Montilla is the place where he left this world for heaven on May 10, 1569, and where we preserve his tomb with veneration,” the bishop said.
The Spanish city has become an epicenter from which St. John of Avila continues to attract people with his teaching, his example and his intercession, Bishop Fernandez said. He “continues to preach and do good,” and Montilla will always be a city where “the Church gathers to venerate a master of the saints, John of Avila.”
Bishop Fernandez encouraged the faithful to come to Montilla throughout the Jubilee Year to be inspired by St. John to grow in holiness: “His light and his testimony will accompany us throughout the Year of Faith."