Madrid, Spain, Mar 17, 2004 / 22:00 pm
In response to an urgent call for help from Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela of Madrid, hundreds of priests and religious rushed to the scene of last week’s terrorist attacks in Madrid in order to help and console victims of the bombings.
“I remember an 18 year-old young man. He was with his friend. He no longer has a family. His father died 8 years ago and he was living alone with his mother. On the 11th, she had the day off and decided to go shopping in Madrid. At the Atocha station she was met with death. He told me, ‘I’m all alone now. I only have my friends.’ I told him, ‘And you have a priest, too, who also loves you and prays for your mother.’ I gave him my address,” said Fr. Angel Camino of the Parish of San Manuel and San Benito.
”And this is perhaps the most tragic,” continues Fr. Camino. “Maria de la Soledad was seated next to one of the backpacks filled with explosives. She was identified by her fingerprints. She was totally blown to pieces, her sister tells me. What a coincidence! Her children were baptized in my parish and her funeral will be here at the express wishes of her husband and parents. All I have done is listen and listen, offer consolation and be present through these small acts of love. The reward has been infinitely greater. I haven’t been turned away by hardly anyone. Quite the contrary. What a lesson of how love pain can be turned into love, of suffering offered up.”
Fr. Santiago Martín was present at the make-shift morgue set up to hold the bodies of those slain. “It is very hard to describe the scene. I have had a hard time sleeping, my chest is hurting and I am nervous. The bodies were on the floor in white and black plastic bags, lined up like soldiers going to receive a medal: the one God was going to give them in Heaven.”