Jesuit writer and mathematician Father Valles dies, aged 95

An undated photo of Father Carlos Valles who spent five decades in India where he wrote 78 books in the Gujarati language. (Photo supplied by Father Cedric Prakash)

Father Carlos Gonzalez Valles, who spent five decades in India and left his imprint on the country authoring 78 books in the Gujarati language, passed away in Madrid, Spain Oct. 9.  He was 95 years of age.

His death is being mourned by many in India, particularly those from the western state of Gujarat. Among the mourners was Indian Prime Minister Narinder Modi, who was a three-time Chief Minister of the state.

“Father Vallés endeared himself to many, especially in Gujarat. He distinguished himself in diverse areas such as mathematics and Gujarati literature. He was also passionate about serving society. Saddened by his demise. May his soul rest in peace,” Modi tweeted.

Father Valles was born in Logrono on Nov. 4, 1925 and joined a seminary at the age of 15. He described himself as “a cheerful student, voracious reader, passionate friend, captain of the football team, in love with Mozart, and enjoying a good appetite” in his autobiography ‘I am Collecting Rainbows’.

The Jesuit priest was posted in Gujarat in 1949. He mastered the local language by vowing not to speak a word of English while he was studying the state.

Justifying his action, he wrote on his self-created website that: “The heart is reached through the mother tongue. In my region that was Gujarati, which also was Mahatma Gandhi’s mother tongue. I studied it during the ‘language year’ prescribed for all Jesuit seminarians.”

A prolific writer, Father Valles’ Gujarati books won him many literary prizes. He became the first foreigner to win the Ranjit Ram Gold Medal, the highest literary award in the state in 1978. He wrote a weekly column for Gujarat Samachar the main Gujarati daily. -