Barcelona, Spain. The celebration of the beatification of the 109 Claretian martyrs began in the afternoon of October 20 with a prayer vigil presided over by Fr. Mathew Vattamattam, our Superior General. Father General remarked that the beatification to be celebrated this Saturday morning in the Holy Family is “an event of faith”. He also explained that the martyrs must be recognized one by one, by their names, because “we are not talking about myths, but about specific people, coming from families of our land, educated in our formation centers, men who carried the treasure of themissionary vocation in earthen vessels of their humanity. “
This is the same reason why in the Claretian communities, in the past 109 days, they were introduced with a martyr’s name each day with its corresponding biography presented through the website dedicated for the beatification: www.109cmf.org
Furthermore, Father General recalled that “today, in various parts of the world, we live persecution because of the Gospel”, also in areas in conflict or border where today there is Claretian presence. And he explained that if today we are able to accept this persecution “with humility and courage, we will also experience, like our martyrs, the extraordinary fecundity that springs from the cross of Jesus.”
The celebration began with a procession of palms, symbol of martyrdom, carried by Claretian students. A gesture that remembers that a great number of the martyrs of the Claretian Missionaries are young students of the seminary of Cervera, some of of them 16 years of age or a little more. In an atmosphere of recollection, the name of the 109 martyrs has been pronounced one by one. The images of all the martyrs have presided over the celebration. While proclaiming the names, a candle for each martyr has been lit on the altar, forming on the ground the form of the number “109”.
During the vigil, prayers for the various branches of the Claretian family were also offered so that the testimony of faith of the martyrs would strengthen them in the face of the most extreme difficulties. A prayer was also said especially for the Claretian missionaries who are ill or older, for the young in formation, for those who suffer persecution and the laity who share the Claretian charism throughout the world. And a petition to be all “builders of peace and reconciliation in the communities themselves and in society” was also said.
The beginning of the celebration of the beatifications was a moment of international encounter of the Claretian family, the various institutions and groups founded or inspired by the charism of St. Anthony Mary Claret. Nigeria, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, the United States, Canada, Korea or Indonesia are some of the countries that will be represented at the beatification. Among them are fourteen Claretian bishops.Claretians from all over Europe have also come to Barcelona, the representatives of the International Coordination Bodies of the Claretian Missionaries of the five continents and the General Government.
There is also a wide representation of women from the Claretian family, such as the Superior General of the Missionary Sisters of the Claretian Institute, M. Gracia García-Baquero, Superior General of the Religious of Mary Immaculate Claretian Missionary Sisters, Jolanta María Kafkala, General Director of the Daughters of the Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary Cordimarian Filiation, María del Mar Álvarez, and sisters of other congregations.
Some of the relatives of the martyrs and people from the native places of the martyrs will also be present.
The prayer vigil was held in the Sanctuary of the Heart of Mary, one of the reference centers of the Claretian community located in the neighborhood of Gràcia. After Vic, where St. Anthony Mary Claret founded the Congregation in 1849, that of Gràcia is the second house of the Congregation founded in 1859. Since then the Claretians have maintained their presence in Barcelona. Currently in the same location is the parish Santuari Cor de María, Claret School of Barcelona, two Claretian communities, and is the seat of government of the Province of Catalunya. The Church also hosts the remains of one of the cofounders of the Congregation, Father Jaime Clotet. Some of the martyrs also belong to this community.