Ceferino Gimenez Malla, known as "El Pele" was born
a Gypsy in Fraga, Huesca, Spain, probably on 26 August 1861, and
a Gypsy he remained. He chose Teresa Gimenez Castro a Gypsy from
Lerida as his wife and settled with her in Barbastro. In 1912
he regularized this Gypsy-style union and became a model Christian.
He had no children but adopted one of his wife's nieces, whose
descendants are still living. He was a flourishing horse dealer
with a respectable position in society and ever ready to give
generously to the poor. Unjustly accused of theft and imprisoned,
he was finally declared innocent: the lawyer for his defence announced:
"El Pele is not a thief, he is San Ceferino, patron of Gypsies".
In his dealings, he never cheated anyone.
Held in great esteem, El Pele was frequently sought by Gypsies
to help them solve the conflicts which sometimes flared up between
them. His reputation for charity and piety was widespread and
although he was illiterate, educated people esteemed him for his
honesty and his wisdom. He was a member of several religious groups.
At the start of the Spanish Civil war, at the end of July 1938,
he was arrested for trying to defend a priest who was being dragged
through the streets of Barbastro, and for keeping a rosary in
his pocket. He was offered freedom if he would stop reciting the
Rosary. He preferred to stay in prison and face martyrdom. He
was shot at dawn on 8 August 1936, against the walls of Barbastro
cemetery. He died clutching his Rosary and crying: "Long
live Christ the King!".