Zeferino was born August 26, 1886 at Chimpay, on the banks of the Rio Negro in Patagonia, Argentina, and was baptized two years later. His father, Manuel, was the last of the great chiefs of the Araucano Indian tribe. As a youngster, Zeferino enjoyed the peaceful rural settings and lifestyle of his native people. He especially enjoyed riding his stead over the wide expanse of his native land with the wind blowing in his face and through his hair.
At the age of eleven, his father sent Zeferino to Buenos Aires to Pius IX Salesian School so that someday, he would be able to lead and protect his people. The family atmosphere of the Salesian school made Zeferino feel at home and he fell in love with John Bosco. His faith matured as did his desire to become a Salesian to bring the Gospel to his people.
Zeferino was inspired by the life of St. Dominic Savio and, through his struggles to assimilate himself into another culture, learned the value of suffering and the joy of belonging completely to Christ. At sixteen, he was accepted by Bishop Cagliero, SDB as a candidate to the priesthood in the Salesian Society. The Bishop thought the climate of Italy might be more suitable for Zepherino’s poor health. In Italy, Zeferino met Pope Pius X who blessed him with the tenderness of a father. Zeferino was a diligent student and was second in his class. Unfortunately, this young man was struck with tuberculosis and died peacefully outside Rome on May 11, 1905. His remains rest in his native land at Fortin Mercedes, Chimpay. He was beatified on November 11, 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI.
Jesus, please protect my brothers of the prairie. If they do not love You, it is because they do not know you.