Asensio Barroso, Florentino, Bl.

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Bishop of Barbastro (Spain), martyr; b. Villasexmir, Valladolid, Spain, Oct. 16, 1877; d. near Barbastro in the central Pyrenees, Spain, Aug. 9, 1936. Although born into a poor family, Florentino attended seminary and was ordained (1901). After earning the licentiate and doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of Valladolid, he taught there, but illness forced him to give up teaching. Upon recovery Asensio was assigned to Valladolid cathedral. His serenity and piety resulted from his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and his inspired homilies gained him renown as a zealous preacher and spiritual director. He was consecrated bishop of Barbastro on Jan. 26, 1936 despite civil disturbance. Even though he had initially hesitated to accept the position, he ministered with fervor, introducing reform, caring for the poor and the sick, and writing a pastoral letter that appealed for unity in Christ.

Soon after his consecration, he was put under observation by the Communist authorities, and on July 20, 1936, he was placed under house arrest. He was later imprisoned, then placed in solitary confinement, tortured, and mutilated for "collaborating with the enemies of the people." Before being shot to death in a cemetery, he serenely told his executioners: 'I am going to heaven.' His mortal remains were recovered from the common grave of the twelve shot with him and placed in a cathedral crypt. Bp. Asensio was beatified by John Paul II on May 4, 1997.

Feast: Aug. 2.

Bibliography: v. cÁrcel ortÍ, Martires españoles del siglo XX (Madrid 1995). w. h. carroll, The Last Crusade (Front Royal, Va. 1996).

[k. i. rabenstein]