The AVAN news agency reported this week that the Holy See has given the green light to move ahead with the beatification of 250 martyrs from the Spanish Civil War of 1934-1939. The list of candidates includes a nine-month pregnant mother and a 15 year-old altar server.
Ramon Rita of the commission for the Causes of the Saints of the Archdiocese of Valencia told AVAN it was the second group of Valencian martyrs to be beatified. The first being the beatification by Pope John Paul II of 226 Valencian martyrs on March 11, 2001.
The new cause was opened in June of 2004 by the Archbishop of Valencia, Cardinal Agustin Garcia-Gasco, and included 183 priests, 10 religious, and 57 lay Catholics. The decree of approval for their beatification was signed by the Prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, and the secretary, Archbishop Michael Di Ruberto.
Among the candidates for beatification is Antonio Ferrer Rodrigo, a 15 year-old altar boy who was tortured and executed for questioning a group of soldiers who were ransacking his parish. He had been able to save a few sacred objects of the parish from profanation, including a chalice, a processional cross and few other items, which he hid at his home. But when he saw the soldiers light a bonfire and toss a painting of the Sacred Heart into it, “he could no longer contain himself and he began to reproach the soldiers,” Fita said. Hours later, he was detained together with his father, who did not want to abandon him, and both were shot on December 2, 1936.
Another dramatic story is that of Hortensia Serra Poveda, a 29 year-old woman who was nine months pregnant at the time. She begged her captors to allow the baby to be born first so he could be baptized, however they refused and the mother and baby were killed.