The Bishops’ Conference of Spain has published a message upon concluding its Plenary Assembly to mark the beatification next fall in Rome of 498 martyrs from the 1936 Civil War saying, “The martyrs, who died forgiving, are the greatest encouragement for all of us to foster the spirit of reconciliation.”
The bishops invited Spaniards to prepare themselves well “for this feast and to participate in such a way that it becomes a new stimulus for the renewal of Christian life. We need it in a special way in these times in which, at the same time a secularist mentality is spreading, reconciliation appears threatened in our society.”
Likewise, they prayed that “through the witness and the intercession of the martyrs, may our hope be invigorated and our charity be ignited. Motivated by the hope of eternal Life, they learned to put love and obedience of the evangelical law above their own lives, the new greater law of love and promoter of the dignity and freedom of each person. The martyrs are supreme witnesses of the truth that makes us free.” The bishops pointed out that “the martyrs are above the tragic circumstances that lead to their deaths. With their beatification, we seek above all to glorify God for the faith that overcomes the world and transcends the darkness of history and faults of mankind.”
“They have given glory to God with their lives and with their death and they have become for us all signs of love, of forgiveness and of peace. The martyrs, by uniting their blood to that of Christ’s, are prophets of redemption and of a divine future, truly better, for each person and for all of humanity,” they explained.
The bishops recalled that 479 martyrs of 20th century Spain “have been beatified in 11 ceremonies since 1987, and 11 are now saints.”
“Almost 500 have been brought together, this time, in a single ceremony. And, as on other occasions, each case has been studied uniquely with great care throughout the years. These martyrs gave their lives, in different places in Spain, in 1934, 1936, and 1937. They are the bishops of Cuenca and Ciudad Real, several diocesan priests, and numerous religious…seminarians, lay people, young people, married, men and women.”
“We can underscore as common traits of these new martyrs: they were men and women of faith and prayer, particularly centered on the Eucharist and on devotion to the Most Holy Virgin; therefore, as long as they could, even in captivity, they participated in the Holy Mass, they received Communion and they prayed to Mary with the rosary; they were apostles and were valiant when they had to confess their faith; they were available for comforting and sustaining their companions in prison; they rejected proposals to undervalue or renounce their Christian identity; they were strong when they were mistreated and tortured; they forgave their executioners and prayed for them; at the moment of their sacrifice; they showed serenity and profound peace; they praised God and proclaimed Christ as the only Lord,” the bishops said.