This past weekend at the Vatican, eight Spanish martyrs moved one step closer to Sainthood when they were beatified in a ceremony led by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Speaking by order of the Holy Father, the Cardinal pronounced as blessed, Servants of God: Josep Tapies Sirvant and six companions, priests, martyrs; and Maria de los Angeles Ginard Marti, professed religious of the Sisters Guardians of the Eucharistic Cult, virgin and martyr.
The event occurred during a special Eucharistic ceremony in which Cardinal Martins read an Apostolic Letter from the Pope making the pronouncement.
At the end of the ceremony, Pope Benedict himself made an appearance at the basilica to venerate the relics of the martyrs and to address the Spanish and Catalan pilgrims present.
"During the religious persecution in Spain," he said, "the exemplary group of priests of Urgell gave up their lives for their faithfulness to the priestly ministry, which they carried out with great commitment in the parish communities entrusted to their care.”
“Bearing witness to their priestly condition and forgiving their persecutors,” the Pope continued, “they gave their lives while invoking the King of the Universe."
Benedict also expressed his hope that the newly blessed priests would "intercede for the diocese of Urgell and for other Spanish dioceses, for priestly and religious vocations, and for the growth of Christian virtues in all the faithful."
The Pope specifically recalled how Blessed Maria de los Angeles, who was born in the diocese of Mallorca, "suffered martyrdom in Madrid during the same period of persecution. Totally committed to the Lord in religious life, she dedicated long hours to the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, yet without neglecting her service to the community.”
“Thus”, he reflected, “did she prepare herself to give her life as a supreme expression of love for Christ."
"For us,” the Pope told the crowd, “these new Blesseds are a living example of priestly identity and religious consecration."
"Let us give thanks to God”, he implored, “for the great gift of these heroic witnesses of the faith. Blessed Josep Tapies and Blessed Maria de los Angeles, pray for the ecclesial communities of Urgell, Madrid, Mallorca and all Spain! Amen."