By now many of you have undoubtedly been following this fascinating story. Forgive me for referring to numerous other media reports but not linking to them.
No, this isn’t Spirit Daily, but I do love a good mystery. It’s certainly possible that the “mystery priest” is alive and that his presence on the scene has a perfectly natural explanation. But if his appearance was miraculous, then I have a favorite candidate whom I think should be considered.
First, we have this composite sketch derived from some eyewitnesses at the scene:
However, the deputy sheriff who spoke with the priest, shook his hand, and observed him for 20 minutes says the composite looks nothing like him.
Rather, the priest is described n various reports as an older man, with an olive complexion, a thick accent, and wearing contemporary clerical attire (i.e., black pants, a black clerical shirt, and a white clerical collar) with dark rimmed glasses. He was seen to be wearing an older-looking silver cross around his neck, and to be praying an old wooden rosary. If this was the appearance of a saint, due to his attire he seems likely to be a late-20th century priest – not a monk, and not a bishop.
Another witness described the priest as looking like the late actor Walter Matthau, and Deputy Richard Adair admits the resemblance:
The man who comes to mind is Fr. Aloysius Ellacuria, a Basque-born priest who served in the Diocese of Los Angeles and died in 1981. He was known to work miracles, and there is a movement asking the Church to open an inquiry into his possible beatification. Here’s one account of some of his miracles:
Several miracles are attributed to this Claretian priest. Holding a great compassion for the sick, Father Aloysius prayed for example for Cardinal Rigali’s own mother, who had cancer several decades ago who then recovered following treatment.
Anthony Riaza of Murrieta, who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 5, and given only three months to live.
After Father Aloysius and his guilds prayed “non-stop” for Riaza and the priest offered Masses to him, the boy and his family were told by a baffled doctor following two weeks of tests that he could leave the hospital.
In another incident, Riaza’s mother broke and paralyzed her hand in a freak accident and reluctantly asked the priest for his prayers.
“Right in front of our eyes she got almost complete movement back in her hand and she couldn’t stop crying from happiness,” Riaza wrote in the affidavit.
Kenneth M. Fisher of Anaheim recalls seeing his late nephew’s “crooked arm” straighten before his very eyes while the teen was being blessed by Father Aloysius in Fountain Valley.
He also recalls seeing an elderly woman fall backward during a pilgrimage in Italy in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s and hit her head on the edge of the cement step after the group had visited another mystic there.
“I thought, Oh my God, she’s very seriously injured or dead”. But after Father Aloysius and the other mystic blessed her, “she came to, got up and continued with the rest of us on the pilgrimage. She never even had a headache.”
Those who knew Father Aloysius personally describe him as a humble man with a quiet intensity who always credited God for his many gifts.
Furthermore, I think his image best fits the descriptions we have thus far: