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Saint Alberto Hurtado
San Alberto Hurtado
Born January 22, 1901(1901-01-22), Chile
Died August 18, 1952 (aged 51), Chile
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 1994, Rome by John Paul II
Canonized 2005, Rome by Benedict XVI
Feast August 18
Attributes Jesuit robes, an old green van
Patronage Chile, poor people, street children, social workers

Saint Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga (born Luis Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga on January 22, 1901 Viña del Mar, Chile - August 18, 1952, Santiago, Chile), popularly known in Chile as Padre Hurtado (Spanish: Father Hurtado), was a Chilean Jesuit priest, lawyer, social worker and writer of Basque origin,[1] founder of the Hogar de Cristo movement. He was canonized on October 23, 2005, by Pope Benedict XVI, becoming his country's second saint.


Academic and religious education

With his father's death in 1905 (when Hurtado was only 4), the family found itself to have significant financial difficulties, forcing his mother to start selling off the land owned by the family.[2] Thanks to a scholarship, he managed to study at the prestigious all-boys Jesuit school of St. Ignacio, Santiago (1909-17). From 1918 to 1923, he attended the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, studying in its Law School and doing his thesis on labour law.

Rather than starting a career in law, Hurtado entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1923, was trained in Philosophy and Theology in Barcelona, Spain, (from where, in 1932, he was expelled with his Spanish colleagues) and completed his theology in Leuven, Belgium, (1932-34) where he was ordained priest on August 24, 1933. While pursuing his theological studies, he worked on a doctorate in psychology and pedagogy at the Catholic University of Leuven.

Life and work

Right from the early days of his studies in labour law, and before becoming a Jesuit, Hurtado had his mind and heart set on tackling social issues and problems. Before returning to Chile, he visited social and educational centers in Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Back home, in 1936, Hurtado's ministry expanded to the pastoring of the Chilean poor, especially disadvantaged children, teenagers and young adults. He was a religion teacher and later educated future teachers in the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Spiritual formation was also important: he gave regular retreats according to the Spiritual Exercises (of St Ignatius of Loyola) and helped them in the process to discover their vocations in the service of Christ.

Social Apostolate

In 1940, he was appointed diocesan director of the Catholic Action youth movement and the very next year, its national director (1941-1944). That same year, in 1941, Hurtado's sociology-oriented mind led to his authoring of the book Is Chile a Catholic country? Revealing a few shocking realities as it was, the book raised a storm among conservative Catholics in Chile, who even accused him of being a Communist.

Keeping in mind his own origins, and ever grateful for the help he (and his family) had received when they were in great difficulties, Hurtado was led to active social involvement. His strong faith was transformed into action with his founding of an organization similar to the present-day Boys and Girls Club in the United States. His shelters, called Hogar de Cristo (Christ's Home), took in all children in need of food and shelter, abandoned or not. He also purchased a 1946 green pickup truck and monitored the streets at night to help those in need that he could reach. His own charisma brought him many collaborators and benefactors; the movement was a huge success. The shelters multiplied all over the country; it is estimated that between 1945 and 1951 more than 850,000 children received some help from the movement.

Labour movement and Social Doctrine of the Church

In 1947, Hurtado entered the labor movement, shepherding Chilean workers. Inspired by the social teaching of the Church he founded the Chilean Trade Union Association, meant to train leaders and instill Christian values in the labor unions of his country. For them he wrote the three books Social Humanism (1947), The Christian Social Order (1947) and Trade Unions (1950).

To disseminate the social teaching of the Church and help Christians reflect and act on the serious social problems faced by the country he founded in 1951 the periodical called Mensaje. He himself published numerous articles and books on labor issues in relation to the Roman Catholic faith.

Early Death

Deeply spiritual, Hurtado was untiring in his work for the workers and the youth, combining intellectual reflection and practical actions. Ever optimistic and joyful he had also an attractive personality that brought many people to Christ and the Church, young and old, intellectuals and manual workers.

One day in 1952, Father Hurtado was stricken with intense pain and rushed to hospital. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Day after day the media kept the country informed of Hurtado's state of health. Before his death he had become a national hero. True to the faith he had been professing all through his life, he accepted gracefully what was ineluctable. After a brief battle with the illness, he died in Santiago.

Beatification and Canonization


Father Hurtado was beatified on October 16, 1994, by Pope John Paul II and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 23, 2005.[3] St. Alberto was one of the first people to be elevated to sainthood during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI; he was also the second Chilean saint, after Saint Teresa of the Andes.

Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga is one of the most popular and cherished saints in his country, Chile. An indication of his lasting popularity was the presence on the Piazza San Pietro, on the day of Hurtado's canonization, of a very large contingent of Chilean people, led by the highest authorities of the country - starting with President Ricardo Lagos and some high-ranking Chilean politicians who actually had been Father Hurtado's students.


The Hogar de Cristo he founded still exists, and through its fight for social justice, it has become one of the biggest charity groups in Chile. There are also an avenue and a subway station in Santiago (the closest to his main shrine, which also houses the Hogar's headquarters) named after him. Also, there is a school called Colegio Padre Hurtado and Juanita de los Andes, obviously because of him and another Chilean Saint, Teresa of the Andes. Xavier High School in New York, New York, renamed a hall and Seattle University has a Residential Learning Community named after him. Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon, opens its empty classrooms in the evenings to an ESL program called The Hurtado Center.

St. Alberto Hurtado is the class saint of Class B2012 (currently in their Second Year as 2B) in the Ateneo de Manila High School.


During the 1990s there was a short TV series dedicated to him, named "Crónica de un Hombre Santo" (English: "Chronicles of a Holy Man"). Four actors portrayed Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga, from his childhood to his last years; popular telenovela actor Cristián Campos played the adult Father Hurtado during his ministry.

Main Works

  • ¿Es Chile un pais católico? (English: Is Chile a Catholic country?), Santiago (Chile), 1941.
  • Humanismo social (English: Social humanism), Santiago (Chile), 1947.
  • El orden social cristiano en los documentos de la jerarquía católica (English: Christian social order in the documents of the Catholic hierarchy), 2 vol., Santiago (Chile), 1947.
  • Sindicalismo: historia-teoría-práctica (English: Syndicalism: History-Theory-Practice), Santiago (Chile), 1950.


  • CID, F.D.: El humanismo de Alberto Hurtado S.J., Santiago (Chile), 1975.
  • LAVIN, A.: El P.Hurtado, amigo y apostol de los jovanes, Santiago (Chile), 1978.
  • GILFEATHER, Katherine A.: Alberto Hurtado, a man after God's Heart, Santiago (Chile), 2004.

External links

See also

Notes & references



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