Manuel Rivas on Vicente Ferrer

Manuel Rivas (A Coruña, 1957, Wikipedia) recently presented his first contract work as a writer, Vicente Ferrer – Rumbo a las estrellas, con dificultades [VF – Starbound, with difficulties]. Ferrer, a former Jesuit priest, was the founder of an NGO that works in India (Wikipedia). Some excerpts from an article on the book by Xosé Manuel Pereiro here:

“It’s not a hagiography, not even a biography. It is a work of reinventing Ferrer through the social network of people that he knit. It is an essay on the experience, a travel diary, every chapter is a centering on and covering one life. Lifes of the untouchables -when they could speak they called themselves dálit, “downtrodden”- and women, i.e. doubly untouchable.”

“It could appear to be somewhat soft as it treats a saint, but this is probably the hardest book I ever wrote,” resumes Rivas.

“[Ferrer] has got a secret history, to create beneficious provocations, to wear the watch going fast.” Rivas details these forward steps: from his membership in the POUM, the most alternative and creative  party during the Republic, until his participation, still an adolescent, in the slaughterhouse Battle of the Ebro, that transformed him into a pacifist, his passing through the [so called] concentration camps of Argelés and Betanzos [Southern France, for Spanish refugees from Franco troops], his entry in the Jesuit order and his work as one of the first worker priest in the outskirts of Barcelona.

 “At the end of the 1950s, Ferrer landed in India, and earlier than Liberation Theology, the Pedagogy of the Oppressed of Paulo Freire, or the Vatican II’s ecumenism, he discovered that his work was not to start the competition on who’s god is better,” narrates Rivas who characterizes the protagonist of his documentary essay as “a shipwrecked of history, who asked everybody who came near to him, being it a successful professional or somebody looking for the last refuge: ‘And you, where have they cast you away?’, and who walked the paths with a dowser, a hindu from Goa, looking for water, and carrying an umbrella. He was a saint with an umbrella.”

Vicente Ferrer Foundation’s website

Source: El País, Feb. 21, 2014

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