Blessed Stanley Rother
Born in rural Oklahoma and raised on a farm, Stanley Rother discerned a vocation to the priesthood and was ordained on May 25, 1963. For five years he served as an associate pastor in Oklahoma, but he soon sought permission to join his diocese’s mission work in Guatemala, serving members of the Tz’utujil tribe in the mission of Santiago Atitlan. There he learned both Spanish and the indigenous Tz’utujil language. He celebrated mass in the tribe’s language and even worked to translate the New Testament into it.
In addition to teaching and celebrating the sacraments for the people of the mission, he worked to serve their physical needs as well: helping to work in the fields, bringing medical care into the village, and working to build an irrigation system.
At that time civil war was raging in Guatemala, and Father Rother’s name appeared on a death list. He returned for a time to Oklahoma, but he soon returned to his mission, saying that “the shepherd cannot run.”
Shortly after his return, early in the morning of July 28, 1981, three men entered the rectory and attacked and executed Father Rother. His cause for canonization was opened in 2007 and on December 1, 2016 he was officially recognized as a martyr by Pope Francis. He was beatified on September 23, 2017 in Oklahoma City.
This icon was commissioned by a priest with a special devotion to Blessed Stanley Rother. He is shown here holding a shepherd's staff, as a symbol of his great devotion to his flock, and the staff is sprouting leaves as a sign of eternal life. The red and gold ribbon wrapped around the staff has the colors of martyrdom, and the way that the ribbon is woven around the staff is a traditional Guatemalan pattern.
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