THE Spanish royal family, politicians in the Balearics and across the country and other personalities yesterday paid tribute to Vicente Ferrer, a former Jesuit who died in India after dedicating his life to helping more than 2 million poor people there. Ferrer passed away earlier yesterday aged 89 in Anantapur, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Born in Barcelona, Ferrer participated in the Spanish Civil War without firing a single shot, and later abandoned law studies to become a Jesuit. He arrived in Mumbai in 1952. “I never spoke to (the poor) about God. There were other priorities,” Ferrer once said. Such ideas contributed to his expulsion from the Society of Jesus later on.

Ferrer also had problems with the Indian authorities, which expelled him in 1968. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in favour of his staying in India, and he was allowed to return the following year.

Ferrer established himself in Anantapur, where his Rural Development Trust and Vicente Ferrer Foundation have created tens of thousands of homes, several hospitals, hundreds of schools and thousands of water wells.