A new collection of testimonies from the Spanish martyrs is aimed at teaching young people about the strength of faith, love for God and forgiveness of one’s enemies, says its author.
“I realized what a treasure these souls were,” Father Santiago Cantera said of his new book “Thus They Went to Their Deaths,” which features accounts from those who lived and died during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
The book focuses primarily on the martyrs of the faith at that time who “confronted death in a Christian manner,” Fr. Cantera told CNA on Jan. 11.
While all of the book's testimonies have been previously published, the priest's work is the first to preserve them all in a single volume.
“In addition to preventing them from being forgotten, my intention was also to present attractive and generous models to the young people of today,” the priest said.
He noted that the testimony of the martyrs urges today's society to understand the transcendence of life – “that death is a passage into eternity and that there is no time to lose in this life.”
Fr. Cantera also observed that it is not only the often brutal deaths of the Spanish martyrs that need to be emphasized, but the choices they made throughout their lives to follow Christ.
“Martyrdom is a grace, a gift from God, and He can grant it at the very moment of death, but it is usually not something spur-of-the-moment,” he said. Rather, it's “the final conclusion of an intense spiritual life.”
In his remarks to CNA, Fr. Cantera said that the martyrs ultimately “teach us the greatness of forgiveness and of love; love for God and for neighbor, including our enemies.”
“And they teach us courage, strength, firmness in our principles and in the faith – something which is badly needed today,” he added.
The lives of the Spanish martyrs also show that “only in Christ can we understand the mystery of life and mystery of death and truly be happy in life and in facing death.”