Franciscan Saints
 22nd November

The Servant of God Magin Catal

 Confessor, First Order

"Of the one hundred and thirty Franciscans who laboured sad missionaries in the famous "old missions" of the state of California during the three- quarters of a century from 1769 to 1845, the one who, more than any other, gained the reputation of being a saint was Father Magin Catal, the holy Man of Santa Clara." (Habig 1959,p830)

 TauA difficult Saint to discover, here is a non hagiographical account of his life by Elaine Jordan, Fr Magin Catal� was beatified in 1884

The Catal Crucifix

Elaine Jordan

One of the lesser known missionaries of the California Missions who deserves greater attention is Fr. Magin Catal. Born in Montblanc in Catalonia, Spain, in 1761, he entered the Franciscans at age 16 and was ordained in 1785. Soon after, he volunteered to enter the mission fields in America.


Fra Calala's Crucifix

Fr. Catala's crucifix at a side altar in the Church of the Mission Santa Clare


For 36 years he laboured with Fr. Jose Viader at the Santa Clara de Assis Indian mission, one of the chain of 21 missions in California established in this period. In his time, he was renowned for his many miracles and prophecies, as well as the exorcisms he performed. The Indians aptly called him 'The Holy Man' of Santa Clara.

Today you can still see the miraculous Catal's Crucifix before which he prayed for hours, frequently remaining there the whole night in prayer to his Lord on the Cross. The life size crucifix sets above a side altar in the restored Mission Church, which has become part of the campus of the University of Santa Clara, run by the Jesuits. In a metal casket close beside the Altar of the Crucifix, Fr. Catal's remains are preserved.

Several Indians heard the image of Our Lord speaking to his faithful servant from that Cross over the altar. Once, Our Lord leaned forward before the whole congregation to commend him during his preaching. On other occasions, eye-witnesses testified that the image of Christ leaned down from the crucifix to embrace the brown-robed Franciscan and to lift him above the ground. 

In his book titled Holy Man of Santa Clara, Fr. Zephyrin Englehardt relates, "One day during Holy Week while kneeling before the Great Crucifix in the Church of Santa Clara, Jose Antonio Alviso and several other persons present heard Fr. Magin sigh aloud, "When, oh my God, shall I see Thy glory? How much longer shall my banishment last in this valley of tears? "Suddenly Alviso heard Our Lord from the Cross answer, "Soon you shall see God in glory."


It was common talk among the Indians that these prayer vigils of Padre Magin were not without marvelous occurrences. Often the children would peep through the keyhole or the cracks in the front door of the Church in order to watch the holy man at prayer before the Altar of the Great Crucifix to see if they could see him raised up in the air.


In the process for his beatification made in 1884, six witnesses testified to seeing Fr. Catal levitate, rising in the air to pray directly before the Crucified Christ. Thus Petra Pacheco Soto related that one day, when Fr. Viader could not find him, he was told that Fr. Catal as usual was in the Church before the Crucifix. A messenger going to the Church discovered him raised up high in the air on the level of the Cross. The Savior had unfastened His hands from the Cross and was resting them on the shoulders of the holy man. This testimony was corroborated by Rufino Saiz, Berta Guadalupe, Antonia Flores and Encarnacion Soto.

Another Indian of good character, Ignacio Alviso, stated that once when he went to call Fr. Magin Catal for supper, he saw the holy man raised in the air embracing the Crucified Lord. When the holy friar noticed that he had been observed, he forbade Alviso to communicate to anyone what he had seen. 

The Indian Egidio, who was with Fr. Magin in his last hours, testified that he had also seen the priest levitate and the Crucified Savior place His unfastened hands upon his shoulders. Rita Garcia testified that her grandmother, one of the colonists at the mission, used to often tell this story: A boy came running to her exclaiming, "Come see, the Father is kneeling in the air, and he does not fall."

 She replied, "Take care! Do not go about telling lies! How can that be?"

The boy, seeing that she did not believe him, made the Sign of the Cross with his finger and then kissed it, thus indicating that he swore that he was telling the truth. 

Prayer of the church

Almighty and eternal God, who didst grant thy servants by
professing the true Faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal
Trinity and to worship the unity in the power of Thy majesty;
we beseech The, that by steadfastness in this Faith we may at
all times be defended from all adversity,
Through the same Christ Our Lord  Who liveth and reigneth
with Thee and the Holy Spirit,  One God, now and forever.  Amen

Habig, Marion A., O.F.M., 1959, ed., The Franciscan book of Saints, Franciscan Herald press, Chicago, Illinois

Fr. Magin Catal� � Elaine Jordan,Posted 9 February 2013,The Catal� Crucifix-, The levitations of 'the Holy Man of Santa Clara, Accessed 3 November 2013,<web;>


Last edited 13/09/2017 15:40
(C)EFO 2013
Web administrator
Wayne Benge