The Catholic Church in Saltillo, Coahuila, is mourning the death of the only priest who was authorized by the Vatican to practice exorcisms in the state.
José Luis del Río y Santiago died on Sunday of acute pancreatitis. He was 86.
Hundreds of people attended Del Río’s funeral on Tuesday, which was held at the Santo Cristo del Ojo de Agua church in Monclova, where he was parish priest for almost 30 years.
In a eulogy, Bishop emeritus Francisco Villalobos Padilla called del Río “a priest who made his life holy through his service to God’s people.”
Del Río was from Monclova and was ordained a priest by Pope Paul IV in 1970.
After he turned 75, he resigned from Ojo de Agua and worked by offering masses at other churches and selling books and religious objects. He also continued to perform exorcisms.
His followers remember him as a devout man who lived and died in poverty.
“During a mass, the devil would manifest itself, and if the devil was close to someone, that person couldn’t look the priest in the eye,” one mourner told the newspaper Vanguardia. “When people asked him if he was afraid, he responded, ‘The devil is afraid of me.’”
Satillo Bishop Raúl Vera will choose a replacement for del Río as exorcist priest of the diocese of Saltillo.