Alberto Hurtado

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Saint Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, S.J. was a Jesuit priest who was canonized (recognized as a Catholic saint) on October 23, 2005, by Pope Benedict XVI.

He was born Luis Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga on January 22, 1901, in Viña del Mar, Chile. He was of Basque origin.

Along with being a Jesuit priest, he was also a lawyer, social worker, and writer. He founded the Hogar de Cristo Foundation. In Chile, he was popularly known as Padre Hurtado (which means "Father Hurtado" in Spanish).

He died on August 18, 1952 in Santiago, Chile. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI canonized him.

Early life and education[change | change source]

Alberto's father died when he was four years old. After this, his mother had to sell, at a loss, their modest property in order to pay the family’s debts. Because the family was so poor, Alberto and his brother had to go to live with relatives and were often moved from one family member to another.

However, Alberto got a scholarship that allowed him to study at the famous all-boys Jesuit school of St. Ignacio, Santiago. He studied there from 1909 to 1917. At the parish and school, Hurtado assisted in the office and was librarian. During this time, he also volunteered at the Parroquia Nuestra Señora de Andacollo, a Catholic parish and school in a poor neighborhood of Santiago.

Fernando Vives, a teacher at the St. Ignacio school, was one of the most important people in Hurtado's life. Even during Vives' exile in Spain (1918–1935), they stayed in contact with each other. Vives was a great influence on Hurtado.

Law school and military service[change | change source]

From 1918 to 1923, Hurtado attended the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He studied in its law school and wrote his thesis on labour law. He had to interrupt his education because he was required to serve in the military. However, he was able to go back to school afterward, and earned his degree early in August 1923.

Priesthood and studies[change | change source]

Rather than starting a career in law, Hurtado entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1923.

In 1925, he went to Córdoba, Argentina, where he studied humanities.

In 1927 he was sent to Barcelona, Spain, to study philosophy and theology, but because of the suppression of the Jesuits in Spain in 1931, he went on to Belgium and continued his studies in theology at Louvain. He was ordained a priest there on 24 August 1933, and in 1935 obtained a doctorate in pedagogy and psychology.

Canonization[change | change source]

Hurtado was canonized on October 23, 2005, by Pope Benedict XVI, becoming his country's second saint.