Register here to join us for a mass at the Domitilla Catacombs on Saturday 21 October 2023 at 3pm.

We will remember Blessed Enrique Angelelli and Pepe Palacio, who co-founded the Young Christian Workers (JOC) in the Diocese of Cordoba, on the centenary of their births in 1923.

And they were both killed by the military during Argentina’s Dirty War, Pepe Palacio in December 1975, and +Enrique Angelelli & his companions in August 1976.

Pepe Palacio

Pepe, a trade union leader, was active for many years with the YCW and also with the Christian Workers Movement. He had only recently been elected as the first lay collaborator (chaplain) of the International YCW and he had only recently returned to Argentina from Bogota, Colombia, where he took part in a Workers Meeting organised by the IYCW before he “disappeared.”

Amalia Palacio

Amalia Castano de Palacio

In another kind of martyrdom, Amalia, Pepe’s wife was left to raise their family alone. She died without ever finding out what had happened to her husband. Years later after the end of the dictatorship, their son, Jose Luis, was able to confirm his death at the hands of the military from information in the national archives.

Amalia and Pepe
+Enrique Angelelli with community leaders

Enrique Angelelli

As well as being a YCW chaplain, Enrique Angelelli was also a chaplain to the students movement, the JUC. And as a bishop in La Rioja, he worked closely with leaders from the rural Specialised Catholic Action movements.

Bishop Angelelli was also an original signatory of the Pact of the Catacombs adopted by Vatican II bishops, who wished to commit themselves to the poor and to the poor. Their pact was inspired by Joseph Cardijn’s consecration to the working class in 1903.

He was killed while returning from a mass in homage to two fellow priests, the Franciscan Carlos Murias and the French fidei donum priest, Gabriel Longueville.

Now, during the Synod on Synodality, we remember them as pioneers of a synodal partnership between laity and clergy, working together to build the Kingdom of God.

Young Fr Angelelli with JOC leaders from Cordoba

The Pact of the Catacombs

In September 1965 as Vatican II drew to a close, Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara wrote to Cardinal Joseph Cardijn proposing two masses for the workers and the poor at which Council Fathers would take a vow modelled on Cardijn’s own consecration to the working class in 1903.

The two masses were indeed celebrated, the first in the Domitilla Catacombs on 16 November 1965 and the second in Cardijn’s cardinal’s parish, St Michael Archangel in the working-class Rome suburb of Pietralata on 17 November, the day before the promulgation of Apostolicam Actuositatem, the Vatican II Decree on Lay Apostolate.

The vow that Camara had proposed morphed into the document that we now know as the Pact of the Catacombs in which the gathered bishops committed themselves to live a life in communion with the people of their diocese. Similarly, the bishops who gathered at St Michael Archangel signed another document now known as the Pietralata Message committing themselves to support the lay apostolate.

Bishop Enrique Angelelli was one of those bishops who attended both of those masses.

Helder Camara’s letter to Cardijn proposing the masses for the poor and the workers and a vow modelled on Cardijn’s.

Mass @ The Catacombs

Welcome to join us in the Domitilla Catacombs at 3pm on Saturday 21 October.

Priests and bishops welcome to concelebrate with Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, emeritus archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Bishop Shane Mackinlay of Sandhurst Diocese in Victoria, Australia, and Fr Clarence Devadass from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Cardinal Oscar is currently coordinator of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals and president of the Episcopal Conference of Honduras. He was previously president of Caritas International.

Bishop Shane is a delegate to the Synod and vice-president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Fr Clarence is director of the Catholic Research Centre in Kuala Lumpur. Cardinal Oscar was formerly president of Caritas International.

NB: Entry to the Domitilla Catacombs will be a discount seven euros (clergy free!).

For numbers, please register via WhatsApp (Clémence +33687001142 or Stefan +61491077033), by email:, by QR code below, or by clicking on link.

Domitilla Catacombs photo credit

Dennis Jarvis / Flickr / CC BY SA 2.0