CNA Staff, Oct 28, 2020 / 02:01 am
The Valley of the Fallen is a monumental complex near Madrid which includes an abbey and basilica, and which honors the fallen of both sides during the Spanish civil war. The bodies of more than 30,000 victims of the war are buried in the complex.
Among them lie 57 Blesseds and 15 Servants of God.
The Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 was fought between the Nationalist forces, led by Francisco Franco, and the Republican faction. During the war, Republicans martyred thousands of clerics, religious, and laity; of these, 11 have been canonized, and 1,915 beatified.
Fr. Santiago Cantera, prior of the Abbey of the Holy Cross, recently spoke at an event organized by the Diocese of Barbastro-Monzón to commemorate the martyrs who died during the religious persecution of the Civil War. The prior highlighted some of the common characteristics of the martyrs, who came from diverse backgrounds.
The martyrs who are buried in the Basilica of the Holy Cross “are the finest testimony of forgiveness and reconciliation” and belong to all states in life: “laity, diocesan and religious priests, consecrated men and women religious, people of all ages, but also a large group of young people, such as Rafael Lluch, a 19-year-old member of Vincentian Youth and Catholic Action,” Cantera explained.
Acceptance of martyrdom
One aspect the martyrs all share in common, Cantera highlighted, was their "acceptance of martyrdom," giving "the finest testimony for peace, forgiveness and the reconciliation of the Spanish people, because they died forgiving their executioners without any hatred.”
Blessed Juan Pedro de San Antonio, a 46 year-old Passionist priest, was hiding in a boarding house along with four other brothers from the congregation. He told the owner of the boarding house that “if anyone takes us out to shoot us, I ask that no one bear hatred or resentment for the evil they are thinking of doing to us. The Lord allows it for our sanctification.”