The bishop for the military and head of the Bishops’ Delegation for the Causes of the Saints in Argentina, Santiago Olivera, announced the beginning of the cause for canonization of Argentino del Valle Larrabure, an army colonel tortured and murdered in 1975 by Marxist rebels.

The prelate made the announcement during a Mass celebrated Aug. 19 at Our Lady of Luján Parish for the military in the Belgrano neighborhood of Buenos Aires for the 48th anniversary of the colonel’s death.

Monsignor Gustavo Acuña, vicar general for the military, read the letter instructing the start of the cause “on the martyrdom of said Servant of God.” Rubén Bonacina has been appointed as postulator, whose role is to gather testimony on Larrabure’s life.

In his homily, Olivera noted that “various testimonies say that Larrabure could have been saved from his cruel fate, he could have said ‘yes’ and saved himself at too high a price: helping them make explosives to continue killing. However, holding an unwavering faith, he said ‘no,’ and while he was singing a hymn, he was martyred at the hands of the ERP [People’s Revolutionary Army].”

“Larrabure gave up his life, forgiving those who decided to kill him,” the prelate said.

Larrabure’s biography

Larrabure was born in San Miguel de Tucumán on June 6, 1932. He was a chemical engineer and was deputy director of the Military Powder and Explosives Factory in the city of Villa María in Córdoba province.

He was married to María Susana de San Martín, with whom he had two children: María Susana and Arturo.

On the night of Aug. 11, 1974, under the democratic government of María Estela Martínez (better known as Isabelita Perón), who as vice president became president following the death of Gen. Juan Domingo Perón, Laraburre was attacked by some 70 members of the ERP whose objective was to obtain armaments and kidnap the head of the factory, Col. Osvaldo Guardone. Not finding him, they took his second in command, Maj. Larrabure.

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The guerrillas held him captive for 372 days in a cell approximately 6.5 feet high, 3.5 feet long, and 2 feet wide.

The soldier was unwilling to share the formula for making explosives, which would have saved his life, but he was willing to die in order to prevent the ERP from continuing to kill.

His body was found on Aug. 23, 1975, in a ditch. He was posthumously promoted from major to colonel. He was 44 years old.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.