Blessed Brother James Miller '66, M'74

Blessed Brother James (Santiago) Miller ’66, M’74 is often remembered for the way his life ended. The dedicated De La Salle Christian Brother and Saint Mary’s alumnus died serving and protecting the youth he served. 

Brother James Miller's yearbook photoBrother James was only 37 when he was shot and killed as he was mending a wall outside of a school where he worked in Huehuetenango, Guatemala in 1982. He was approached by three men, who shot him several times before fleeing; and they were never brought to justice. It is suspected that Brother James was killed because he and the other Brothers fought to keep their young students from being forced into the military.

Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of Brother James Miller, FSC, on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. The Vatican announced that Pope Francis approved a decree recognizing Brother James died as a martyr.  Brother James will be the first De La Salle Christian Brother from the United States to be beatified. The date of his beatification ceremony will be held this fall in Guatemala.

As a martyr, Brother James must have one miracle posthumously attributed to him to reach the next (and final) level toward official sainthood, which is canonization.

A native of Stevens Point, Wis., Brother James received his undergraduate degree in 1966 and his graduate degree in 1974 from Saint Mary’s. He taught at Cretin High School, now Cretin-Derham Hall, in Saint Paul, Minn., for several years before going to Nicaragua and eventually Guatemala, where he taught job and leadership skills to the young indigenous people.

At the Casa Indigena school in Guatemala, Brother James taught English, religion, and Guatemalan art to secondary level students. Aware of the oppression of the indigenous people of Guatemala and their need to be trained in job skills and leadership skills, he helped begin an experimental farm where indigenous students learned agricultural methods and improvements. More importantly, he prepared native leaders for rural areas who would work for collective development in their villages.

Brother James Miller's journey/timeline to beatification and eventually canonization

  • Feb. 13, 1982: Brother James killed in Huehuetenango, Guatemala
  • Sept. 14, 1994: Guatemalan Bishops begin the process for Canonization and completes first investigation
  • Feb. 6, 1996: The Vatican undertakes the second investigation
  • July 9, 2010: Cause for beatification receives Decree of Validity in Rome; Brother James recognized as a Servant of God. 
  • March 20, 2018:  Nine theologians of the Theology Commission of the Congregation for Causes of Canonisation voted unanimously to recommend the recognition of the martyrdom of Brother James.
  • Oct. 2, 2018: 15 Cardinals approve the Positio
  • Nov. 8, 2018: Pope Francis officially recognizes Brother James’s martyrdom, clearing the way for beatification.
  • Dec. 7, 2019: Beatification ceremony to take place at 10 a.m. in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. 

*As a martyr, Brother James must have one miracle posthumously attributed to him to reach the next level toward official sainthood, which is canonization. A recognized martyr does not require a miracle to be attributed to them in order to be beatified.

Memories of Brother James Miller

Members of the Saint Mary's community share stories of the Brother James they knew
Brother Pat Conway

Brother James "...would do something for other people and no one knew."

Brother Francis Carr 

Brother James was "...very professional as a teacher and very committed to the students."

Paul Kotz, Ph.D.

Brother James "...had a sense of humor that was subtle... a sense of humor I didn't expect."

Media Resources

News release: Pope Francis approves beatification of Saint Mary’s alumnus 

MPR interview with Brother Francis Carr, FSC

Residencia Santiago Miller

three people unveiling the sign in front of Residencia Santiiago Miller Hall

In 2012, Saint Mary’s University renamed its “New Village” Residencia Santiago Miller in honor of Brother James and his work. A bust was commissioned in his honor. 

bust of Brother James Miller

James Alfred Miller, Apostle to the Suffering Poor of Central America, Hermano Santiago

Novitiate Class 1962