The indulgence of Father Juan Gilbert

The fervent devotion that the majority of Valencians have for their Most Holy Mother of God under the potential dedication of the Virgin of the Destitute cannot be understood without the historical and ineffable figure of Father Juan Gilbert. Also known as Father Joffre, he was born in medieval Valencia in the 14th century, specifically in the year 1350, into a distinguished legal family. Due to strong religious observances, he frequented the central church of La Merced, which gives its name to the current square, underpinning an early clerical occupation that he built in the convent of Santa María de el Puig. would consecrate into the Mercedarian Order, where he would later establish his active residence and contemplation. Already shaven, he sets out for his itinerant preaching, particularly sensitive to the redemption of captive Christians. In addition, the young friar, expert in law, exercised regency duties with tenacity and discretion. But without doubt, the landmark that stamps Father Joffre’s life of evangelism is the occasion in which he witnesses the outrageous crime that a group of young people commit on a mad and helpless man. Suddenly, he stands among them to protect the innocent, thus beginning two benevolent and unprecedented wills that remain today as a model of compassion and religious faith, but with nuance: psychiatric hospitals. Compelled the construction and veneration of the Virgin. Fortunately, art, through a young Sorolla, delights us with an oil on canvas titled ‘Father Joffrey Defending a Madman’ which shows details of the event in the Valencian master’s imagination. In the cathedral sermon that followed this event, he highlighted the urgent need to build a home or hospice where care would be taken of the defenseless, the wretched homeless, who were insane or isolated, whether or not because of their very poor vital circumstances. . Finally, with the help of sensitive Valencian benefactors, what could be considered the first psychiatric hospital was built. At a time in history, ignorant of the essential principles of psychology or psychiatry, the raising of a work of this dimension could only be understood with admiration. A place where not only the innocent get physical shelter but also spiritual support.

Several centuries later, Joffre’s noble action, which is the way of Jesus, must be customary in a society that regards the destitute with a certain distrust or prejudice, a sight among stinking street furniture with painful ingenuity. Looking for modest accommodation. In the gloomy entrances of buildings, in bank tellers or among the marks left by the masonry that make up river bridges. Homeless humans who become sick with a shack in which they live and intolerable bureaucracy that resigns any attempt to access the “best” healthcare in the world. Recognizing that the integration of the most vulnerable requires a complex process to be supervised by specialized institutions, which provide complete support for the disadvantaged to recover their dignity in all its dimensions and to reintegrate them into society; rehabilitates in kind, I affirm obstinate acts of kindness, free from the shackles of functionaries, brave, discreet to the point of invisibility. Remove the stigma and ask them what they need. How can we assist you? Do more. Foolish admirers of fashionable jargon will describe this as “goodness” as now branded bonhomie, but the truth is that spontaneous and rebellious charity is immune to malicious judgement. In a selfish and suspicious world, indulgences exercised by angels of flesh and blood are viewed with a certain suspicion or sensitivity by the steadfast and malicious, either because many of them are unable to perform different functions, or because At present they find it inconvenient to walk against insolence.

And right there, on the foundation of the first Hospital for the Innocents nurtured by Father Juan Guilabert, the Brotherhood of the Virgin of the Destitute was born. That is to say, not only the Virgin of all Valencians, but the Virgin who protects beggars and the mentally ill. It is inconsistent that we show our mother as a prasad, a transfer or a procession which is not in line with the charity we provide to those who have only cardboard and blanket car as their only asset or lack of understanding. that we often do with people with mental illnesses. “I want mercy and not sacrifice” says the Bible passage.

Ramon (Gómez de la Serna), an innovative prodigy of Spanish letters, describes in an excerpt from his most complete autobiography entitled Automoribundia (1948–1888), a realistic portrait of the needy man living on the street, but who knows is that it is something that many affluent people lack and it is expressed thus: «Those who wash in public fountains and who have the uncertain and unfulfilled dreams of those who sleep in the corner of life. He is ill and his eyes are blind as they both look at the same wound towards Christ who crucify himself (which he carries) and who is a missionary for his rebellious soul.

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