The Holy Man of Santa Clara

This coming Wednesday, Mission Santa Clara will have a Traditional Latin Mass for canonization cause of Fr. Magin Catala

Father Magin Catala levitated when he prayed in front of this very crucifix, which will be present over the altar at Wednesday’s Mass.

California Catholic Daily exclusive by Roseanne T. Sullivan.

The day before Thanksgiving this year, on Wednesday, November 22, a group of Catholics will gather at the restored Mission Santa Clara, as they have done for the past nine years.

They will attend a sung traditional Latin Mass at 6:30 p.m. and pray for the canonization of Franciscan missionary, Fr. Magin Catala, who died on that date in 1830, 187 years ago. All are welcome to that Mass.

Fr. Catala first came to Mission Santa Clara in 1796, 19 years after the mission was first founded by Saint Junipero Serra in 1777, and, Fr. Catala labored there with love and great personal sacrifice for 36 years until his death. According to contemporary eye-witness accounts, Fr. Catala was a mystic, a miracle worker, an aesthetic, an exorcist, a prophet, and a wonderfully holy man.

A free-for-download 1909 book titled The Holy Man of Santa Clara (by Fr. Zaephyrin Engelhardt, O.F.M., published by The James H. Barry Company, San Francisco) documented the miraculous events of his life. The book records the reports of several reliable witnesses (whose letters still can be viewed in the University of Santa Clara Library Archives). They told that they saw Fr. Catala levitate when he prayed in front of a crucifix, and that the figure of Christ detached his hands from the cross and laid them on Fr. Catala’s shoulders. That very same life-sized crucifix hangs over the altar where Wednesday’s Mass will be celebrated.

Fr. Magin Catala’s tombstone. The letters used to be inlaid with gold.

Not only did Fr. Catala levitate like St. Joseph of Cupertino, he was also reportedly seen several times during his life in two places at once, bilocating like St. Padre Pio.

Fifty-four years after he died in 1830, Fr. Catala’s cause for canonization was taken up by Archbishop Alemany, the first bishop of San Francisco. Testimony about his life and virtue was submitted to Rome in 1909, but the cause for canonization of this worthy servant of God has stalled for the past 108 years.

Perhaps you may wish to offer prayers on your own for this cause if you cannot attend.

If you are interested in attending, you can find the restored Mission Santa Clara Church on the University of Santa Clara campus, at the end of Palm Drive, which is the main drive. Ask directions for parking at the campus entrance, which is located 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053. Be aware that you cannot drive to the front of the Mission Church, and the distance between the parking areas and the mission entrance presents a problem for some people who are mobility impaired.

Some of Fr. Catala’s remarkable prophecies from the book:

“It appears that Almighty God in those days allowed His servant a distinct view of the future of California. There were still many witnesses alive in 1884 who under oath declared that the holy man had preached substantially as follows: People from almost all the nations of the earth will come to this coast. Another flag will come from the East and the people that follow it will speak an altogether different language, and they will have a different religion. These people will take possession of the country and the lands. On account of their sins the Californians will lose their lands and become poor, and many of their children’s children will give up their own religion.”

The mass on November 22 will be at the restored Mission Church on campus of Santa Clara University.

‘The Indians will be dispersed, and will not know what to do, and they will be like sheep running wild. Heretics will erect church buildings, but these will not be true temples of God. Sons will be against their fathers, and fathers against their sons, and brother will be against brother. The coming of so many people will create great scarcity, so that a measure of wheat will be bought for its weight in gold. ‘Una fanega de trigo se compraria a peso de oro.’ As a consequence, much distress will come upon the Indians and Californians. ‘I shall not see this,’ he exclaimed, ‘but there are those alive that will see it.’”


  1. Terrific news! The thought of a Latin Mass in Mission Santa Clara alone is enough to make one happy.

  2. Linda Maria says

    A wonderful article! I would like to find out more aout Fr. Catala’s Cause for Canonization! I wonder if he has a better reputation, historically, than St. Junipero Serra, a controversial figure?? How about a statue of him– what would the Indians think??

  3. Anonymous 2 says

    Fr. Catala, according to many of the canonization process witnesses of 1884, predicted that at then-barren Yerba Buena, “a great city will arise, many great houses will be erected, but that it will become very wicked, and will be completely destroyed by earthquake and fire.” Yerba Buena was the Spanish explorer-name for the present-day site of San Francisco.

    Although some attribute this prophecy to the 1906 earthquake, that could not be: the city was not completely destroyed; nor is it anywhere as depraved as today. The prophecy likely belongs to future.

  4. The Real Ralph says

    This crucifix is beyond profound. Unfortunately, the photo here doesn’t do it justice, and probably no photo could. Kneeling before this crucifix, a person does not leave until the Lord lets them know when. With all that goes on at Santa Clara, I have often wondered whether this crucifix is the only reason the place is still standing.
    Father Catala, pray for us.

  5. William of Baskerville says

    Two miracles besides the many of Fr. Catala:

    1) Personal to Fr. Catala, he passed away Nov. 22, 1830—3 years before the Decree of Secularization of the Missions by the government of Mexico destroyed the mission system and the fairly successful cooperative way of life of the mission Indians. Although the law was supposed to give each Indian enough land to graze his oxen, in actual fact the land was stolen from them and transferred to Mexican citizens with political connections to Gov. Jose de Echeandia. Fr. Catala at least did not have to witness the heartbreak of the destruction of the Mission system.

    • William of Baskerville says

      2) The second “miracle” is the survival of this crucifix, in the side chapel of Mission Santa Clara. Somehow the crucifix survived the disastrous Mission Santa Clara Fire of 1925. That fire virtually reduced to ash the entire original mission: only this crucifix and some other statues, chalices, and property survived that conflagration. It is a link to the past.

      There are many other amazing documented events in Fr. Zephyrin Englehardt, OFM’s, 1909 book. Fr. Catala foresaw so much, namely that wickedness will not be ignored by God forever: God will chastise evildoers, but also, those who acknowledge their sinfulness may turn back to Him. That is the prophetic message of Fr. Catala for our own times.

  6. Perhaps the local Cal-Catholic faithful will attend for those of us who can’t attend, and thanks in advance!

  7. The mystery of Christ is so unfathomably rich that it cannot be exhausted by its expression in any single liturgical tradition. The mystery celebrated in the liturgy is one, but the forms of its celebration are diverse. The diverse liturgical traditions have arisen by very reason of the Church’s mission.

    • The Real Ralph says

      I don’t know what “liturgical traditions” you refer to, but if you’re including in those the Novus Ordo, the NO hardly has been around long enough to qualify as a “tradition.” But it’s blink of an eye 38 year history has gone a long way to destroy the practice of the TLM, a legitimate “tradition,” indeed the only Mass called “Traditional.”

  8. Ralph: The material for my previous post above is taken from paragraphs 1200 and 1201 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1995 and written under the direction of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) and promulgated by Pope St John Paul II. These two important leaders of our church could hardly be considered theological lightweights or liberals. Pope St John Paul II remarked regarding the Catechism: “A sure norm for teaching the faith.”

  9. Ralph: perhaps you are unaware of the the “eastern lung” of the Catholic Church (i.e.comprised of 23 Eastern Christian Churches in full communion with the Pope) and the rich and diverse liturgies they celebrate in a variety of languages; hence, the reference in paragraph 1200 of the Catechism of the diversity of liturgical celebrations. In my travels around the USA and attending TLM liturgies in various cities, I find some adherents to the TLM worship the TLM rather than God Himself.

  10. Ralph: I’ve observed a similar phenomenon among Protestants who worship the Bible rather than the God revealed by the Bible. Also, in my conversations with some devotees of the TLM, I’ve heard them completely reject long-standing teachings of the Church (e.g. alms giving, care for the poor and hungry, just wages for workers, nuclear nonproliferation, etc.) while they embrace a very myopic view of the Church in the modern world.

    • Anonymous 2 says

      Sorry, George, never encountered this in my decades with traditionalism- –rejection of the Beatitudes and the corporal works of mercy—-by Trad Catholics—Except as a handy accusation by dedicated enemies of Trad Catholics.

      • Linda Maria says

        Who cares about the “form of the Mass,” to honor Fr. Catala?? The ancient Tridentine Mass of 1500+ years of our Church, should always receive great respect! And there will always be Catholics who go to Sunday Mass (usually, the New Mass, and some, the Tridentine Mass) — but do not truly practice their Faith! Who cares which Mass they attend? The Mass which Fr Catala said daily, led him to be a holy priest, who someday may be canonized as a Saint! Almost all of our Saints, so far– were made holy, by the Tridentine Latin Mass and Sacraments, and teachings of the pre-Vatican II Church! Just a historical fact! Maybe someday, we will see Saints who attended the Novus Ordo Mass!

  11. Interesting. At the parish in my community run by the FSSP, the focus is on building a new church building, teaching Latin and learning more about Chesterton. At the other parish in town staffed by diocesean priests the emphasis is on Eucharistic adoration, St. Vincent de Paul, Pro-life activities and RICA.

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