Barbal Cosan, Jaime (James) Hilario, St.
BARBAL COSAN, JAIME (JAMES) HILARIO, ST.
Baptized Manuel, also known as Diego Barbal, Lasallian Christian Brother martyr; b. Enviny (Diocese of Urgel), Lérida Province, northern Spain, Jan. 2, 1898; d. Tarragona, Spain, Jan. 18, 1937. At age twelve Manuel Barbal Cosan began his studies for the priesthood in the minor seminary at La Seo de Urgel. When he developed a hearing loss and was advised to return home, he feared that he would be unable to fulfill his religious vocation. He attended the De la Salle training center at Mollerusa for seven months, then the brothers of the Christian Schools at Irun, Spain, accepted him into their novitiate (Feb. 24, 1917). For sixteen years (1918–34) he taught at De la Salle schools (Mollerusa, 1918–23, 1924–25; Manresa, 1923–24; Oliana, 1925–26; Pibrac near Toulouse, 1926–34), and became known for his professional competence as a teacher and catechist, as well as for his piety and adherence to the rule. When his hearing loss became too profound to continue teaching, he worked as cook in the school at Calaf (1934) and in the garden of Saint Joseph's novitiate at Cambrils, Tarragona (from December 1934), while he continued to write about French, Castillan, and Catalonian literature.
Upon hearing of the martyrdom of his religious brothers at Turón (with whom he was canonized), he expressed to his family his desire to die likewise. En route to visit them, he was recognized as a religious, arrested at Mollerusa (July 18, 1936), and imprisoned locally, then at Lérida (August 24); he was transferred to the prison ship Mahon at Tarragona (December 5). Refusing to win his release by denying his religious identity during the summary trial (Jan. 15, 1937), Jaime Hilario was taken to Monte de los Olivos cemetery for execution by firing squad. He was the first of ninety-seven Lasallian brothers of the District of Catalunia to die during the Spanish Civil War and in the first group of martyrs of the period to be canonized (Nov. 21, 1999), following his beatification by John Paul II on April 29, 1990. His cause was joined with that of the Martyrs of Turón, who had died three years before Barbal.
Feast: Jan. 18 (Lasallian Brothers).
Bibliography: v. cÁrcel ortÍ, Martires españoles del siglo XX (Madrid 1995). l. salm, The Martyrs of Turón and Tarragona: the De La Salle Brothers in Spain (Romeoville, Ill. 1990).
[k. i. rabenstein]