Rome, Italy. As part of the Jubilee celebration of the Claretian Missionaries, the Superior General Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, CMF, inaugurated and blessed the new Claret Gallery and the icons of the Blessed Claretian Martyrs and Co-patrons of the Congregation at the General Curia in Rome.
“On this very day, 1 February 1856, our Father and Founder, St. Anthony Mary Claret, suffered a bloody attack in Holguin (Cuba). For this reason, we celebrate the memory of all the Blessed Claretian Martyrs. Like Jesus and Claret, they felt presented by the Heart of Mary to the Lord to proclaim their definitive witness as Christians and missionaries. Tonight, as we bless the Claret Gallery and the icons of our blessed martyrs, we wish to make our beloved Congregation aware of this. Therefore, let us live this celebration with joy and gratitude and ask the Lord to allow us to be convincing witnesses to the Gospel we proclaim.”
Fr. Carlos Sanchez, CMF, began with this introduction during the celebration on the evening of 1st February 2024 on the first-floor hallway now converted as Claret Gallery.
Fr. Mathew, after thanking the artist and the commission behind the Gallery, and briefly stating its purpose, said:
“Even the walls must speak of who we are and what we do in the Church.”
Members of the Curia community held candles, and as the General blessed the gallery with incense, all proceeded in a procession to the Chapel for the vespers in memory of the Blessed Claretian Martyrs. The vespers ended with the blessing of the new icon of the Blessed Claretian Martyrs, now number 184, and the icon of the Co-Patrons of the Congregation.
THE CLARET GALLERY
The Claret Gallery inaugurated on 1 February 2024 in the context of the Jubilee of the 175th anniversary of the foundation of our Congregation, serves as a reminder of the spiritual and missionary legacy of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, which lives on through the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Heart of Mary (CMF) that he founded, and the evangelizing family that he nurtured. On display are two magnificent canvases used as banners carried inside the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican during the canonization of the Saint Anthony Mary Claret on May 7, 1950. These paintings represent the “Christmas vision” granted to Claret on December 24, 1864, and the moment of the foundation of the Institute on July 16, 1849, with Claret and the five co-founders. Also featured are representations of the branches of the Claretian Family, who work together in all kinds of pastoral care entrusted to the weaving factory of the Founder. It also features a painting that reminds the Claretian Mission in Fernando Poe (now Equatorial Guinea) with the presence of Father Xifré, co-founder of the Congregation, the relics of the Claretian Martyrs of Barbastro, the world map of the Claretian presence of today, and the specific missions of yesterday and today. The gallery also encompasses the chapel with the apse painted by Fr. Mino Cerezo, CMF, and the icons of the Blessed Claretian Martyrs and co-patrons.
Fr. Adrian de Prado, CMF, designed and conceptualized the gallery, connecting it to the design and concept of the Claret Chapel Museum of the General Curia. The commission for the project’s realization includes Frs. Carlos Sanchez, Vicente Sanz, and Manuel Tamargo, CMFF.
THE ICON OF THE BLESSED CLARETIAN MARTYRS
The icon is that of traditional iconic-egg tempera on exotic wood Samba that measures 100×77 cm and was hand-painted by Ms.Teodora Bozhikova in 2023. It represents the 184 Blessed Claretian Martyrs in glory, under the blessing of Christ Pantocrator and surrounding the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the table of sacrifice. Above left, the 51 martyrs of Barbastro, beatified in 1992 (with Fr. Juan Díaz Nosti carrying the basket of Eucharistic bread), and Fr. Andrés Solá, beatified in 2005 (with the chalice). Above right, the 23 martyrs of Sigüenza, Fernán Caballero and Tarragona, beatified in 2013 (with palms of martyrdom). Below are the 109 martyrs beatified in 2017; of these, on the left, the 60 martyrs of Solsona and Cervera; on the right, the 49 martyrs of Barcelona, Sabadell, Lleida, Vic, Santander, and Valencia (carrying the cross, the rosary, and the Gospel).
For a broader explanation of the icon, visit the page of the Causes of the Saints of the Congregation
THE ICON OF THE COPATRONS OF THE CONGREGATION
The icon of the copatron saints of the Congregation is also that of traditional iconic-egg tempera on exotic wood Samba that measures 100×77 cm and was also hand-painted by Ms.Teodora Bozhikova in 2023. In the upper third, St. Michael the Archangel (in the center), together with St. Peter (left) and St. Paul (right). The rest of the apostles (Thomas, Simon, Andrew, James the Greater, Matthew, John, Bartholomew, James the Minor, Philip, Jude Thaddeus ) are in the middle third. In the lower third, from left to right, St. Therese of Jesus, St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori, St. Joseph, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and St. Catherine of Siena.
Video summary of the celebration: