Frontlist | Indian PM joins tributes to Spanish Jesuit priest

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Father Valles lived in Gujarat for nearly five decades and made big contributions to literature and mathematics

 

India’s prime minister and Catholics in the western state of Gujarat are mourning a Spanish priest who contributed extensively to Gujarati literature, the state’s official language and mathematics.

Jesuit Father Carlos Gonzalvez Valles died on Nov. 9 in Madrid, the capital of Spain, four days after his birthday. He was 95 and died of old age.

“It is obviously a great loss to the Jesuits of Gujarat and Christians here but also sad for the people of other faiths because his writing was so simple and appealing to all that it could unite us all,” Father Alpesh Macwan, socius of Gujarat Jesuit province, told UCA News.

“Though he was from Spain but later received Indian citizenship, his heart was always in India and especially for the youths to whom he dedicated his life by making literature and mathematics simple subjects which people could understand.

“Even the government has used a textbook written by Father Valles. His writing contacted all without discriminating and that void can’t be filled after his demise.”

Father Macwan said Gujarat will always be indebted to Father Valles for his contribution to literature and upholding the state’s culture.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter: “Father Valles endeared himself to many, especially in Gujarat. He distinguished himself in diverse areas such as mathematics and Gujarati literature. He was also passionate about serving society. Saddened by his demise. May his soul rest in peace.”

Father Valles was born in Logrono on Nov. 4, 1925, and came to India in 1949 and made Gujarat his home. He lived there for nearly five decades and wrote extensively in Gujarati apart from English and Spanish.

He learned the Gujarati language when he was asked to teach mathematics at the newly opened St. Xavier’s College in Ahmedabad, the state capital.

He was ordained to the priesthood on April 24, 1958.

Father Valles wrote 78 books containing his essays dealing with life and how to live it. He contributed a new style of writing in Gujarati using short sentences and a conversational style.

He also translated many mathematical concepts into Gujarati and coined special terms for them. He contributed regularly to Suganitam, the first mathematical review in an Indian language.

His books have been translated into other European languages and Chinese. In 1999, he created his own website so as to reach out to the youth of today.

From 1960 to 1982, he taught mathematics at St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad. He lived in the walled city among various middle-class families as their guest.

His writings won him the Kumar Gold Medal, the Ranjitram Gold Medal and the Saccidananand Appreciation Award the highest award in Gujarati literature.

He was also given the Kalekar international award for promoting harmony among various religious communities in India.

 

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