The Martyrs of Spain: A Remembrance Which Encourages Pardon and Reconciliation

Nov 28, 2012 | Martyrs of Barbastro

Madrid, Spain. With the 75th Anniversary of the Martyrs of Barbastro now ended, the remembrance of the disciples of Christ assassinated for their faith is not over in contemporary Spain.

On Sunday the 27th the Cemetery of Paracuellos del Jarama, near Madrid, celebrates a Eucharistic celebration during which the Diocese of Alcalá of Henares will open the 75th Anniversary of the Martyrs of who are buried there.This cemetery is described as the place where the most Christians of this world have given their life for the faith. In it several thousand people were shot and thrown into pits previously dug to accommodate their bodies. The great percentage of them were not killed for their ideas or political views, but because they were priests, religious, or strong Christians. Almost 120 have been beatified; 15 Oblates of Mary Immaculate will receive this in the coming month. Along with those shot the Cemetery contains the remains of thousands of those murdered transferred from other graves in and around Madrid.

A Group of Claretians
Paracuellos has a special significance for the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. There rest the remains of at least six Missionaries, four Priests and two Brothers. Older than the Martyrs of Barbastro or Fernán Caballero, their ministry and example of life had impressed many Spanish Catholics. Five belonged to the community of “Buen Suceso” then in charge of a good number of printed works and the charge of the Sanctuary of the Heart of Mary. Of the twelve Martyrs of that community, five were executed at Paracuellos: Bro. Casimiro Oroz Idoate (42 years) and Fathers Juan Echevarría Maurolagoitia (50), Juan Manuel Fernández Gonzalo (40), Juan Iruarrízaga Aguirre (38) and José Joaquín Portero Martín (34). There are witnesses who give us reason to believe that the cemetery also houses the remains of Bro. Goñi Asperrén Hilario, 49, who had been sent to Madrid from Don Benito assuming that the religious there would be better protected. The Brotherhood who care for the Cemetery, a public association of the faithful, also count him among the buried.

A Memory Held
What the congregation knows today about the life and martyrdom of these missionaries was begun more than twenty years ago. The effort given by Fr. Barea Ernesto Amorena, CMF, who dedicated years to investigate them, lets us know the events in detail. Encouraged by what was discovered, the community of Buen Suceso erected a cross in the middle of the Cemetery on April 25, 2004 which remembers the sacrifice of the Missionaries. The words of the Spanish bishops who opened this celebration continue to be very relevant today: “May forgiveness and magnanimity be the climate of the times. We gather the legacy of those who died for their faith pardoning those who killed them and who offered their lives for a future of peace and justice for all Spaniards.”

The discoveries of the Fr. Barea, embodied in several books and biographies, and the works such as those of Fr. Pedro García, CMF, have brought into the view of Christians of today the life of these Martyrs. The Bishop of Alcalá de Henares has invited the major superiors of the more than twenty orders of religious congregations to celebrate this Sunday at Paracuellos. The major superiors of Iberia, who have gone to Poland, are not able to attend. Fr. Aquilino Bocos, the current superior of the Community of Madrid-Buen Suceso will represent the Congregation.

Liberty and Pardon
It is impressive to see what was written in the register of the Prison from which they came to the cemetery. After each of their names: “released on November 24, 1936.” Indeed, in liberty, in the freedom that God the Father reserves for the faithful and the brave, in the freedom to die forgiving who shoots you. Blessed freedom! (photos)

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