Víctor Manuel Sanabria Martínez (San Rafael, January 17, 1898 – San José, June 8, 1952) was a Costa Rican priest, doctor of canon law, Bishop of Alajuela, Vicar General of the Metropolitan Curia, Canon Theologal of the Metropolitan Council and II Archbishop of San José from March 7, 1940 until his death.
He is one of the most emblematic figures in the history of Costa Rica, not only for his ecclesiastical work, but also for being one of the social reformers of Costa Rica in the 1940s. For his determined support of the country’s trade union movement, which culminated in the signing of the “Article on Social Guarantees” in the Political Constitution of Costa Rica. He was declared “Benemérito de la Patria” (With great merit for the fatherland) in 1959.
He completed his primary studies in Cartago and traveled to pursue his secondary studies at the Seminary College in San José, later entering the Major Seminary.
During his education he had great teachers such as Father Guillermo Hennicken, spiritual director with a reputation for holiness, Father Juan Koch and Father Dr. José Ohlemüller, his professor of Dogmatic Theology. He obtained a Doctorate in Canon Law in Rome.
Among his most relevant merits was drafting and promoting promulgation of the “Social Laws of the Republic”, and its subsequent incorporation into the Political Constitution as the Chapter of Social Guarantees. Alsocreation of the Labor Code law and the foundation of the University of Costa Rica.
Religious life of Bishop Víctor Manuel Sanabria Martínez.
In 1918, after receiving the Major Order of the Subdiaconate, he was sent to Rome by Monsignor Juan Gaspar Stork Werth. There, in addition to his ordination as Deacon, he was ordained a priest on October 9, 1921, a few months after the consecration of Monsignor Rafael Castro Jiménez as first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of San José.
Thanks to his intelligence, he obtained a doctorate in Canon Law in Rome with the qualification of “Suma Cum Laude”, having also studied Philosophy.
He returned to Costa Rica and carried out some pastoral services, as coadjutor of the parish of San Nicolás de Tolentino, today the Cathedral of Cartago, and later parish priest of San Ignacio de Acosta.
Six months after holding that office, he was appointed Canon of the Metropolitan Council, where he held various positions as Administrator and Chancellor of the Metropolitan Curia.
In 1935, he was appointed by Mgr. Rafael Castro Jiménez as Vicar General of the Archdiocese of San José. On March 12, 1938, He was consecrated as the II Bishop of the Diocese of Alajuela.
Just two years later, after the heartfelt death of Bishop Rafael Castro Jiménez, on March 7th he was promoted to the Archbishop’s See of San José, of which he took possession on April 28th, 1940, remaining in this office until 1952.
Achievements of the Archbishop.
His work includes elements such as the transfer of the Central Seminary to its new building in Paso Ancho, the creation of the Minor Seminary, innumerable tasks in terms of social works and care for the poor, the promotion of Catholic Action, the Foundation of ” Radio Fides ”, the protection of Catholic education, among others.
Monsignor Sanabria contributed so effectively to labor reform in the country, that since then, Costa Rican workers enjoy many benefits, such as paid vacations, social security, health, maternity and disability insurance, severance pay and other labor benefits.