On November 16 we celebrate the Feast of our Saintly Brother Martyrs of Almería, Spain.
BLESSED MARTYRS OF ALMERIA
Brother José Cecilio Rodríguez González
Brother Amalio Zariquiegui Mendoza
Brother Valerio Bernardo Herrero Martínez
Brother Edmigio Primo Rodríguez
Brother Evencio Ricardo Alonso Uyarra
Brother Aurelio María Villalón Acebrón
Brother Teodomiro Joaquin Sáiz Sáiz
Shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the Popular Front in the Province of Almería gave orders to arrest all enemies of the revolution, especially priests and religious. Five of the Brothers were arrested at their school, two were taken prisoner in the street while on their way to mail letters to their families. Along with many others, including two bishops, these prisoners were confined in a series of makeshift prisons, where they were subjected to privation, mistreatment and ridicule. On the night of August 29, the two bishops, along with 15 others, were taken to an isolated spot where they were lined up and shot. On the next night, August 30, Brothers Edmigio, Amalio, and Valerio were taken to the outskirts of Tabernas, where they were shot in the head and their bodies thrown into a deep well. On September 8, Brothers Evencio and Teodomiro were shot near the roadside, where their bodies were left. Brothers Aurelio and José met a similar fate on September 12, their bodies also thrown into a well. Bishops and Brothers alike were condemned to death without trial for the crime of professing and teaching the Catholic faith.
The martyrs of Turón were a group of eight De La Salle Christian Brothers and a Passionist priest who were executed by revolutionaries in Spain in October 1934. They were canonized in 1999 by Pope John Paul II.
Turón, a coal-mining town in the Asturias Province in Northwestern Spain, was the center of anti-government and anticlerical hostility in the years prior to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. The Brothers’ school was an irritant to the radicals in charge of the town because of the religious influence it exerted on the young. The Brothers were known to defy the ban on teaching religion and they openly escorted their students to Sunday Mass.
In October 1934 following the calling of a general strike, the miners of Asturias began to arm and organize themselves, occupying several towns and setting up revolutionary committees. On Friday 5 October they occupied Turón, forcing their way into the school and arresting the Brothers there. Also present was a Passionist priest, who was visiting to hear confessions. He was also arrested.
Over the next few days they were tried by a revolutionary court and sentenced to death. On October 9 1934, in the middle of the night were marched out to the cemetery where they were summarily shot and were then buried in a common grave.
The nine are regarded by the Catholic church as Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War. Although their deaths occurred two years prior to the outbreak of the war, it was part and parcel of the communal violence that was a feature of the conflict, and the times before and after. Of the 6,000 religious killed during the Spanish Civil War about 1,000 have had their causes advanced for beatification, though the Martyrs of Turón are the first to be canonized.
Brothers Florencio Martín, Bertrán Francisco, Ambrosio León, Elías Julián, Honorato Andrés, and Father Leonardo O. Buera, chaplain of the Bonanova School, gave their lives for being faithful to their roles as ministers and ambassadors of Jesus Christ.
When religious persecution began in Spain, they were working peacefully in the educational institutions in the Lasallian District of Barcelona. Because of the religious persecution there, they fled to Valencia in order to continue their ministry of education. It was in Valencia that the Lord called them to a radical witness. When they were found to be religious, they were arrested and executed.
Martyrs are a sign of the Church, the Body of Christ, which continues being persecuted and condemned to death in her members, but these martyrs keep their sights fixed on the glorious dawn of the resurrection.
These five Brothers, now newly beatified, had no other job than that of following Jesus in the vocation to which He had called them: To bring salvation to the young and children, that is to say, to educate young people and children entirely in a Christian manner, so that they might achieve their full potential as human beings and as Christians.
Martyrs of the French Revolution
Blessed Solomon Leclerq
Blessed Léon Mopinot
Blessed Roger Faverge
Blessed Uldaric Guilaume
Once the monarchy had been overthrown early in the French Revolution, the next target was the Church. In 1790 the Civil Constitution of the Clergy gave the state complete control over the Church in France. In order to continue to function, priests and religious were forced to take an oath to support the constitution. Most of the Brothers refused and so were forced gradually to abandon their schools and communities. Eventually the Institute was deprived altogether of legal status in France.
Brother Solomon was secretary to Brother Agathon, the Superior General, after having been a teacher, director and bursar. He always showed a great love for people and a great attachment to his work. Having refused to take an oath, he lived alone in Paris in secrecy. We still have many of his letters to his family. The last one is dated August 15, 1792. That very day he was arrested and imprisoned in the Carmelite monastery – that had become a prison – together with several bishops and priests. On 2 September, almost all the prisoners were killed by sword in the monastery garden. He was beatified on October 17, 1926, together with 188 of his fellow martyrs. He was the first one of our martyrs and also the first Brother to be beatified.
His feast is celebrated on the 2nd of September with three other Brothers martyrs of the hulks of Rochefort, who died 2 or 3 years later.
These three Brothers were among the priests and religious who were confined in the rotting hulks that served as prison ships in the blockaded harbor of Rochefort where they endured indignities and privations. When Brother Roger, who had been Director of the schools in Moulins, succumbed to typhus he was moved to an island in the harbor where he died at the age of 49. Brother Léon, 68 years old, also from the school at Moulins, had taught most of the people in the city. He died after two months on the hulks. Brother Uldaric continued teaching secretly after his school at Nancy had been closed. He died after fifteen months of imprisonment and was buried with other prisoners in an unmarked grave on the island in the harbor.