By Fr. Mark Miller, C.Ss.R.
On October 27th, the six Redemptorist martyrs from the time of the Spanish civil war (1936-39) will be declared Blessed. The following is an article from the February edition of “Redemptoristen Kontakte,” the mission outreach newsletter from the St. Clement Province (Germany):
“From July 1936 until April 1939 civil war raged in Spain. During this time many priests and religious were imprisoned, kidnapped and often savagely killed. There are six Redemptorists, from the community of St. Felipe in Cuenca, who became members of this persecuted group.
Right at the start of the civil war, on July 31, 1936, Fr. Ciriaco Perez was imprisoned by the militia of the Republicans. He was dragged to the plaza “Las Angustias” where he was left lying helpless after being beaten and seriously wounded. Fr. Ciriaco lived only a few hours until he succumbed to his wounds.
Only nine days later, on Aug. 9, 1936, Fr. Julian De Samaniego was taken while saying the rosary. Suffering from tuberculosis, he was a quiet, serious man. Because of his gentle and laid-back nature, he was often sought as a confessor and spiritual director. Taken by the militia, he was shot on the road which leads from Cuenca to Tragacete.
Then on the very next day, the 10th of August, Fr. Jose Januarena and Brother Victor (Calvo Lozano) were also arrested. Against the will of his father, Fr. Jose had joined the Redemptorists at a very early age and was at first a teacher in El Espino (Burgos) and Astorga. He wrote a “Handbook of Philosophy” and was a well-loved missionary. Brother Victor was the porter and kept busy as a secretary.
The militia bound both and dragged them to the Cuenca cemetery where Brother Victor was brutally murdered and Fr. Jose shot to death.
At the end of the same month, on Aug. 31, 1936, Fr. Miguel Ariz was arrested. In 1932 he preached parish missions with great effect on the people and tireless effort on his part. He came to Cuenca in order to work at the Redemptorist parish of St. Philip Neri. He was shot down and left to bleed to death.
Fr. Pedro Romero Espejo managed, at the outbreak of the civil war, to take cover with a family in Cuenca. In order to avoid the attention of the persecutors, but also to continue his ministry, he disguised himself as a beggar when he walked the streets. Nonetheless he was recognized in May of 1938, arrested and brought to prison. He died there on May 29th of dysentery.
The declaration of beatification of these Redemptorist martyrs will take place on October 27th of this year in Tarragona.”
After reading this, I could not help but say to myself, “And we think we have problems!” May their prayers and the prayers of all our Redemptorist Saints and Blesseds keep us faithful and zealous in our calling.