Meet the Saints

Meet the Saints

ST. ALBERTO HURTADO CRUCHAGA, SJ (1901-1952) — Born in Chile, Alberto Hurtado was only four when his father died. Growing up with financial difficulties, a scholarship enabled him to attend a Jesuit school in Santiago. Later he studied law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

Hurtado entered the novitiate of the Society of Jesus in 1923. After philosophy and theology studies in Spain and Belgium, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1933.

He was interested in labor law and long desired to improve the lot of the poor. Upon his return to Chile in 1936, he became a teacher at his alma mater, the Pontifical Catholic University, but also reached out to the poor, especially to the young.

In 1940 he began working for Catholic Action and in the following year became the national director of the youth organization. He also published Is Chile a Catholic Country?—a book which caused considerable controversy and even had some critics labeling him a “communist.”

Father Hurtado founded his own organization for poor and abandoned young people, El Hogar de Cristo. It quickly spread throughout Chile and served thousands of needy youngsters. He also established the Trade Union Association of Chile, published three volumes on the labor movement and founded the periodical Mensaje.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Fr. Hurtado died in August, 1952, at the age of 51. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.