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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 352

Saint Manuel Bueno, Martyr is an interesting novella in that it focuses on a priest, and yet it is seemingly a story about not truly believing in God. The story, told by Angela, one of the people who helped Don Manuel with his community outreach and the running of his church, is told because the church is considering making Don Manuel a saint. Angela isn't totally sure about this, though, as she and her brother, Lazarus, knew that deep down, Don Manuel didn't really believe in God. He believed in helping the people and in nurturing their faith in God and an afterlife, but he himself was unsure that there was anything more to life than what the eye can see.

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The story implies that even though Don Manuel (and Lazarus) didn't believe in God, he was doing God's work just the same. He may not have consciously believed that there was a higher being and that there was an afterlife, but his actions were all good and kind and for the other people around him instead of for himself, which would have surely earned him a place in heaven if it exists. The people of the town saw him as a Christlike figure, but he had no illusions of grandeur because of this. He was as humble as Christ himself, and his only goal in life was to save others by inspiring them and leading them by example.

At the end of the story, Angela, who has also been questioning her faith, wonders if at the moment of Don Manuel and Lazarus' deaths, "the blindfold might have fallen from their eyes," and they may have found that they believed after all. The story is about this "do they or don't they?" push and pull of faith that was experienced even by a man who claimed to be a man of God. In a way, this is comforting to readers who have experienced moments of questioning their own faith, as well as to people who need to believe that one doesn't necessarily have to believe in God to be a great person.

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