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Catholic priest burns to death after spark ignites robes during Easter candle-lighting ceremony
Catholic priest burns to death
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Catholic priest burns to death after spark ignites robes during Easter candle-lighting ceremony

A "very loved" Spanish priest was burned to death when his robe caught fire during an Easter candle-lighting vigil.

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According to The Mirror UK, Javier Sánchez has been hailed a hero for apparently protecting a group of nuns as his body was engulfed in flames during the horrific incident at a convent in the Spanish city of Zaragoza. The blaze began when an ember bowl surrounded by candles caught fire over the Easter weekend.

A simple candle spark then made contact with his vestment and the blaze spread rapidly, leaving him with 50 per cents burns all over his body. He spent four days in intensive care before tragically passing away from multiple organ failure. He saved the nuns by standing between the bowl and the group of nuns as the fire caught on. Investigators believe that paraffin had been used to help the ember bowl burn.

"The priest tried to protect the nuns of the convent when embers lit up in the basin that was used [for the fire] and that ultimately caused his death. Apparently a flammable substance had been used to start the fire. [The Easter Vigil] was held inside the convent," a source told El Heraldo de Aragón

The hospital in Zaragoza

The well-loved clergyman - who was known as the "rock priest" for his love of guitar-driven music - was presiding over the "blessing of the fire". The ritual is usually held during the Holy Saturday Mass and includes the lighting of the paschal candle. The candle then remains lit for 50 days until the celebration of Pentecost, which marks the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles.

The "rock priest", who served at the Clinical Hospital of Zaragosa in addition to his parish, had composed a number of songs and released three albums over the course of his career. One of his songs "A tu aire" sparked controversey when it was released in 2015 due to a video clip showing him weaing angel wings, shouldering a guitar - the only thing covering his genitals. He was also a talk show host on television.

Tributes have lit up social media since the tragedy. One friend wrote: "He was a very vital and very loved person." The local archbishop released a statement saying: "'It is with pain that we communicate that this morning the priest Javi Sánchez has died. We pray for his eternal rest."

Secretary of the San Gregorio neighbourhood association said news of the "good man's" death was like being doused with "a bucket of cold water" even though he hadn't been in the community long. The Brotherhood of Humility also expressed its "deepest condolences and support to his entire family". "May the humility of God and the sweetness of Mary shelter you in heaven. Rest in peace. We will never forget you, Javi. Care for us in glory," the brotherhood wrote.

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