"Long live Christ the King" were also the last words of many of the martyrs, such as Blessed Florencio López Egea, whose executioners stuck thorns in his eyes demanding he blaspheme, but he always replied "Long live Christ the King."
Also sharing this supernatural outlook are the 23 sisters belonging to the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. Seven of them are buried in the Basilica of the Holy Cross.
When they were riding in a truck on the way to being shot, "they all knelt down to receive the Sacred Hosts that they had kept in a watch case," Fr. Cantera related. "The driver of the truck carrying them after they had been arrested told his wife how much he admired them: 'I saw them all die, most of them young, with smiles on their faces and blessing God. What women. They were Adorers.'"
Love for the priesthood
Another common aspect of the martyrs is "their love for the priesthood and the priestly ministry," the prior said, citing Blessed Enrique López Ruiz. An altar boy described him as "a true apostle of Jesus Christ." The militiamen wanted to stop him from offering Mass, but he refused to leave his parish and the faithful.
The "willingness to die and be martyred, offered in immolation for the salvation of Spain" is also a hallmark of the martyrs.
Blessed Josefa María, a Salesian sister, refused the offer to hide in the house of a relative whom she told: "If Spain has to be saved by the shedding of our blood, we ask God for it to be as soon as possible." Or Blessed Florencio López, who on his way to be shot was singing a song he had composed himself asking the Virgin "to save quickly the Spanish people."
Enduring torture and cruelty
Cantera also pointed to the cruelty suffered by the martyrs, to which they responded with their love for God and by offering their lives for Spain, as did Fr. Domingo Campoy, a curate of a parish in Almería who was tortured on one of the prison ships.
This priest served in the military as a chaplain and interceded for the release of a soldier who had been arrested who later became one of his executioners.
Serving the needy
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The prior noted that almost all of them dedicated a large part of their lives to performing works of charity, such as the Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, whose charism is helping young women at risk of falling into prostitution.
Fr. Cantera also wanted people "to know the great spiritual wealth and theological mark sealed upon his soul by the Valley of the Fallen as an authentic place of peace and reconciliation in the shadow of the redemptive Cross, a symbol that reminds us of the redemption of Christ, the reconciliation that God has accomplished to which he invites all men."
The Valley of the Fallen
The complex was inaugurated in 1959 under Franco, who was Spain's head of state from the end of the Spanish Civil War, when the Nationalist forces he led defeated the Republican faction, until his death in 1975.
The government of Pedro Sanchez, secretary-general of the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party, in September introduced the Law on Democratic Memory.
The bill seeks to transform the Valley of the Fallen into a civil cemetery, and would expel the Benedictine community. It would also bar publicly funded groups from glorifying Franco, the BBC reported.