The saint of San Rafael

On the struggle out of the valley of San Marcos, a truck stopped and offered us a lift. It was driven by an Italian Catholic priest in traditional robes and two sisters with similar brown habits. They smiled so nicely as they told me about their lovely town of San Rafael and their special church. They encouraged me to visit San Rafael which I did the next day.

Nancy overlooking san marcos
Nancy overlooking san marcos (View on flickr)

I took a bus out to San Rafael and did agree that is was a wonderful village. I got a private tour of Tepeac by the groundskeeper who had great love for this special place. According to an article published in the Nica News 21 (March 1999) “The most outstanding figure in the history of San Rafael is the Italian priest, Father Odorico D'Andrea. From his arrival in 1953 to his death in 1996, Father Odorico achieved virtual sainthood among the people of San Rafael and the surrounding communities. His image, a smiling, warm, obviously kind man in plain brown robes, can be seen in nearly every home, business and vehicle in the town. "It's so sad," said one community member, "that you weren't here to know him." Among his achievements are a formidable health clinic, a library, several neighborhoods for the poor, and the beautifying of the church.

The latter feat is truly impressive. Pastel-colored windows admit a calming light in which to view the many bright murals, bas-reliefs and shrines. Mention the padre's name to any local and you will immediately gain their friendship.
As time passes, the people of San Rafael speak even more greatly of Father Odorico. Many believe he performed miracles and that his body has not decomposed. You can check for yourself at his resting place, called the Tepeac and located on the hill overlooking the town. Ascending the stairs, you'll pass the Stations of the Cross to where the tomb it situated.“

I got to touch the tomb of this saint and see the seat he would rest in when he was tired and walk the quiet gardens he had also walked. I could see why the grounds keeper loved this place, it was a special place, I could feel the magic.