Angelenos will have a special opportunity to “meet” a famed Spanish saint this month, as a relic of St. John of Avila will be in town. 

The piece of the heart of the 14th-century saint and Doctor of the Church is traveling to Los Angeles from March 19-26, accompanied by two priests from the Archdiocese of Cordoba, Spain, who will be participating in the annual Serra conference at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo. 

Fathers Carlos Jesus Gallardo-Panadero is a spiritual director at the Seminario Conciliar de San Pelagio in Cordoba, and the director of the Diocesan Center of St. John of Avila. He also hosts a radio program about St. John. Fr. Guillermo Padilla-Sanchez is the vice rector of the Basilica of St. John of Avila in Montilla, Spain. 

“While studying in Rome, I had the opportunity to delve into the writings of St. John of Avila, the only Doctor of the Church who remained a diocesan priest,” said Father Gustavo Castillo, the director of spiritual formation at St. John’s Seminary. “As priests, we are called to have hearts of good shepherds. We welcome this relic of one of these shepherds configured to Jesus in this historic first trip to the United States.” 

With only a week in town, the relic has a lot of ground to cover. Faithful will be able to venerate the relic at all of the Sunday Masses on March 20 at St. Joseph Church in Hawthorne (6, 10:45 a.m., and 12: 30 p.m. in English; 7:15, 9 a.m., 2:15, 4, 6, and 8 p.m. in Spanish). The visiting priests will give a talk on the four Spanish Doctors of the Church there at 5:15 p.m. 

On Tuesday, March 22, the two Spanish priests will bring the relic to the Serra Conference at St. John’s Seminary for the 7:15 p.m. presentation “The Influence of St. John of Avila on the seminaries of the American Continent.” 

The following day, the relic will visit the Carmelite Sisters at Sacred Heart Retreat Center in Alhambra for a discussion of St. John’s relationships with St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. 

St. John of Avila was a priest in Spain whose zeal for holiness inspired thousands of conversions and a Church-wide reform in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. He was the first diocesan priest to be named a Doctor of the Church, by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.