Saturday, January 31, 2009
498 Spanish Civil War Martyrs / Love Letter of Blessed Bartolome Blanco Marquez
498 Spanish Civil War martyrs beatified
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2007 / 02:25 pm (CNA).- Nearly five hundred victims of religious persecution before and during the Spanish Civil War were beatified Sunday, making it the largest mass beatification in history.
The crowd gathered for the ceremony included seventy-one Spanish bishops, 1,500 priests, 2,500 relatives of the martyrs, Spanish politicians and 4,000 Spanish pilgrims. St. Peter’s square was filled with pilgrims waving Spanish flags and showing their thanks for the beatification of the 498 martyrs. When Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, proclaimed the 498 martyrs beatified, the square erupted with applause.
After the beatification Mass, Pope Benedict XVI greeted the pilgrims from his studio window. He said the beatification of so many ordinary Catholics showed that martyrdom wasn't reserved for a few but is "a realistic possibility for the entire Christian people."
"This martyrdom in ordinary life is an important witness in today's secularized society," he said.
The beatified were killed in the years 1934, 1936, and 1937. They include two bishops, 24 priests, 462 members of religious orders, a deacon, a sub-deacon, a seminarian, and seven lay Catholics. The breadth of the persecution was also reflected in the range of their ages with the youngest being 16 and the oldest 71.
Seven thousand clergy are estimated to have died in the persecutions.
The violence came from leftist groups who saw the Church as a symbol of wealth, repression, and inequality. Their continual attacks helped provoke General Francisco Franco into rebellion against the elected left-wing government. The civil war lasted from 1936 to 1939, after which the victorious Franco ruled as dictator for forty years.
Franco's legacy is very controversial in Spain. The Spanish Parliament is about to pass a Socialist-backed bill seeking to make symbolic reparations to victims of the war and of the Church-supported Franco dictatorship.
Relations between the Holy See and Spain's present socialist government have been strained since the latter took power in 2004. The government has supported easy divorce, gay marriage, and abortion. It has also disrupted its preceding conservative government's plans to mandate religious education in schools.
Some Spanish critics of the beatifications interpreted them as a political rebuke to the socialists.
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Love letter from prison proof of martyrdom of Spanish youth
Madrid, Oct 29, 2007 / 10:38 am (CNA).- Bartolome Blanco Marquez is one of the youngest of the group of 498 martyrs beatified by Pope Benedict XVI this past Sunday at the Vatican. A committed Catholic, the 22 year-old layman wrote a moving letter to his girlfriend Maruja just hours before his death.
“Your memory will go with me to the tomb, and as long as my heart is beating, it will beat with love for you,” he told Maruja. “God has desired to exalt these earthly affections, ennobling them when we love each other in Him.”
Therefore, although in my last days God is my light and my longing, this does not keep the memory of the person I most love from accompanying me until the hour of my death,” he wrote in his letter.
Bartolome was born in Pozoblanco on November 25, 1914. orphaned as a child, he was raised by his aunt and uncle and worked as a chair maker. He was an outstanding student at the Salesian school of Pozoblanco and also helped out as a catechist. At the age of 18 he was elected secretary of a youth division of Catholic Action in Pozoblanco.
He was imprisoned in that city on August 18, 1936, when he was on leave from military service. On September 24 he was moved to a prison in Jaen, where he was held with fifteen priests and other laymen. There he was judged, condemned to death and shot on October 2, 1936.
During his trial, Bartolome remained true to his faith and his religious convictions. He did not protest his death sentence and told the court that if he lived he would continue being an active Catholic.
The letters he wrote on the eve of his death to his family and to his girlfriend Maruja show his profound faith.
“May this be my last will: forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness; but indulgence, which I wish to be accompanied by doing them as much good as possible. Therefore, I ask you to avenge me with the vengeance of a Christian: returning much good to those that have tried to do me evil,” he wrote to his relatives.
On the day of his execution he left his cell barefoot, in order to be more conformed to Christ. He kissed his handcuffs, surprising the guards that cuffed him. He refused to be shot from behind. “Whoever dies for Christ should do so facing forward and standing straight. Long live Christ the King!” he shouted as he fell to ground under a shower of bullets.
Posted by MemoriaDei at 8:30 PM
Labels: Blessed Bartolome Blanco Marquez, Martyrs of Spanish Civil War. Martyr beatification, Spanish Civil War