Rome Newsroom, Nov 8, 2020 / 05:15 am
A 19-year-old Spanish martyr who gave his life while protecting the Eucharist was beatified Saturday at a Mass in the Sagrada Família Basilica in Barcelona.
“Yesterday in Barcelona Joan Roig Diggle, a lay man and martyr killed at the age of 19 during the Spanish Civil War, was proclaimed Blessed,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Nov. 8.
“May his example arouse in everyone, especially the young, the desire to live the Christian vocation to the full,” the pope said.
Blessed Joan Roig Diggle was killed “in hatred of the faith” in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. The young man was known for his devotion to the Eucharist at a time when churches in Barcelona were being closed, burned, or destroyed, so a priest entrusted Joan Roig with a ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament to distribute Holy Communion to those most in need in their homes as it was not possible to attend Mass.
During one of these visits, Joan Roig told a family that he knew that red militiamen were trying to kill him. “I fear nothing, I take the Master with me,” he said. When those seeking his life knocked on his door, the young man consumed the hosts he had been guarding to protect them from potential desecration.
The Libertarian Youth patrol then took him to the Santa Coloma cemetery where he was killed on Sept. 11, 1936 with five shots to the heart and one to the head. Blessed Joan Roig’s last words were: “May God forgive you as I forgive you.”
At Joan Roig’s beatification on Nov. 7, Cardinal Juan José Omella, archbishop of Barcelona, said in his homily that the young man was an “ardent defender of the Social Doctrine of the Church” and provides youth today with a “testimony of love for Christ and for his brothers.”
The apostolic nuncio in Spain, Bishop Bernardito Auza, and the archbishop emeritus of Barcelona, Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach, concelebrated the Mass, which took place with a limited attendance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.