Alcalá’s Saint: SAN DIEGO
Brother Diego of Saint Nicholas was born in San Nicolás del Puerto (Seville) on November 14, 1400 and died in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid) on November 13, 1463. He was a Spanish Franciscan Monk, a saint for the Catholic Church.
Born right in the Sierra Morena Mountains, he joined the Order of Friars Minor in the convent of Arruzafa (Cordoba). In 1441 he was sent as a missionary to the Canary Islands and lived in Fuerteventura until he returned to the peninsula in 1449.
The following year he made a pilgrimage to Rome to attend the canonization of Bernardino of Sienna. He stayed in Aracoeli and then, due to an epidemic, he was forced to stay in Rome caring for the sick. Upon returning to Spain, he continued working as a doorman and cook in several convents, the last one being Santa María de Jesús, in Alcalá de Henares, where he died.
His remains can be found in the Cathedral in Alcalá de Henares in a silver urn from the 17th Century, and his untouched body shown every year on November 13.
San Diego’s body was initially kept in the Franciscan chapel that had already adopted his name, and then moved to the Cathedral due to the demolition of the building in the middle of the last century. (It was to be substituted by the current Prince’s quarters in the Plaza of the University, currently being restored.)
The saint’s hardships don’t end here, however. After an attempt to desecrate his urn at the start of the Spanish Civil War, the urn was moved and hidden in the cemetery until the war was over. This was when his remains were moved to the Jesuit Church, as the Cathedral had been destroyed by a fire. As the restoration of the Cathedral progressed, San Diego’s body was returned to the High Altar and afterwards to one of the lateral chapels, where it remains today. Something interesting to note is that the table that is currently on the High Altar of the Cathedral, which for years was kept in the Church of San Felipe, is the same table on which Pope Sixto V canonized San Diego.
He was the only saint that was canonized in the 16th century by Pope Sixto V, on July 10, 1588.
Between the six miracles proven by the Sacred Congregation of Rites for his canonization, the most famous is the curing of Prince Charles, son of King Phillip II of Spain. When he was studying in Alcalá de Henares in 1562, he had a bad fall from the stairs in the Archbishop’s Palace, hitting his head very hard. Once San Diego ordered to have his body taken to his bedroom, he had a surprising recovery