San Alberto Hurtado

August 18 is the feast day of Chilean Saint Albert Hurtado (January 22, 1901-August 18, 1952.) Born in Viña del Mar in 1901, his family was forced to sell their modest property after his father’s death and often moved or stayed with relatives throughout his youth.

Thanks to a scholarship, Hurtado managed to study at the prestigious Jesuit school of St. Ignacio and later entered the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile where he studied law. Rather than becoming a lawyer, however, he became a Jesuit novitiate. In 1927 he was sent to Spain but because of the suppression of Jesuits there, he went to Belgium where he studied pedagogy and psychology. Before returning to Chile, Hurtado visited social and educational centers in Germany, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

He returned to Chile in 1936 and began his activity as Professor of Pedagogy. 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. He founded shelters, called Hogar de Cristo (Home of Christ), and took in all children in need of food and shelter, abandoned or not. It is estimated that between 1945 and 1951 more than 850,000 children received some help from the movement.

Deeply spiritual, Hurtado was untiring in his work for workers and for youth. 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 and died a a short time later. Father Hurtado was beautified in1994, by Pope John Paul II and canonized in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga is one of the most popular and cherished saints in his country. An indication of his lasting popularity was the presence in Saint Peter’s Square, on the day of Hurtado’s canonization, a large contingent of Chilean people, including President Lagos and some high-ranking Chilean politicians who actually had been Father Hurtado’s students, like then-Senator Gabriel Valdés.

This image is the Statue of San Alberto Hurtado in the Templo Votivo de Maipú, Santiago, Chile. It was taken by Jorge Barrios Riquelme, September 4, 2012. It is This licensed under the CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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