'Rocker' priest dies from severe burns after his vestments catch fire during Easter vigil

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Father Javier Sanchez of Spain's Archdiocese of Zaragoza has died from burns he suffered when his liturgical vestments caught fire from a candle while he took part in an Easter vigil. He was 60. 

The archdiocese announced Sanchez's death last Thursday, saying that many are in mourning. He served as the parish priest of St. Gregorio Church, counselor of the Brotherhood of Humility and a chaplain of the convent of the Franciscan Conceptionists of the Santa Isabel neighborhood.

Sources in the archdiocese reported that the priest attempted "to protect the nuns of the convent," according to the regional daily newspaper El Heraldo de Aragón.

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"The priest tried to protect the nuns of the convent when the ember burned in the bowl that was used and that ultimately caused his death," the source told the newspaper, according to Google Translate. "Apparently a flammable substance had been used in the burning. The [Easter] celebration took place in the interior of the convent."

The fire burned 50% of his body, according to diocesan sources cited by El Heraldo de Aragón, and he was rushed to Miguel Servet Hospital, where he succumbed to his burns and died. 

Sanchez's funeral took place last Friday. The Archbishop of Zaragoza Carlos Escribano presided over the mass, followed by a farewell ceremony at the parish in the Santa Isabel neighborhood.

Those who knew the pastor expressed sentiments of grief.

The Brotherhood of Humility's Zaragoza chapter expressed its "deepest condolences and support to his entire family" on Facebook.

"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.

The deceased priest is also remembered as a "good friend" and a "rocker," referring to his love of music. 

In 2015, El Heraldo de Aragón reported that Sanchez had previously talked about his musical career, recording at least three albums, with the third album having over 23 songs. 

"People think it was a joke, I said I was going to retire because I wanted to focus on other things, but they wouldn't let me," Sanchez was quoted as saying. "They keep calling me to sing and to collaborate."

Nicole VanDyke is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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