Barbastro, Martyrs of

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Felipe de Jesús Munárriz Azcona and 50 companions; martyrs; members of the Congregation of Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Claretian Missionaries); d. August of 1936, Barbastro (Huesca), Spain; beatified by John Paul II, Oct. 25, 1992.

The first decades of the twentieth century found Spain mired in political upheaval and social unrest. Violent religious persecutions unfolded following the establishment of the Republic in 1931. During the Spanish Civil War (193639) there was a massive elimination of priests, nuns, and Catholic lay leaders throughout Spain. Fifty-one of those killed were Claretians, mostly young seminarians who had recently arrived at the Claretian house in Barbastro to complete the last year of their theological studies.

On July 20, 1936, the students, their professors and superiors, and some Claretian brothers were arrested and accused of harboring weapons. They were taken to the auditorium of the Piarist seminary, where they were subjected to various forms of psychological and physical abuse. Between August 2 and August 11, all 51 were executed.

In addition to the superior, Father Felipe Munárriz (b. Feb. 4, 1875 at Allo, Navarre, Spain), the following were also martyred on Aug. 2, 1936: Father Juan Díaz Nosti (b. Feb. 18, 1880 at Quinta de los Catalanes, Asturias); Father Leoncio Pérez Ramos (b. Sept. 12, 1875 at Muro de Aguas, Rioja).

The martyrs of Aug. 12, 1936 include Father Sebastián Calvo Martínez (b. Jan. 20, 1903 at Gumiel de Izán, Burgos); Wenceslao María Clarís Vilaregut (b. Jan. 3, 1907 at Olost de Llusanés, Barcelona); Father Pedro Cunill Padrós (b. March 17, 1903 at Vic, Catalonia); Brother Gregorio Chirivás Lacambra (b. April 24, 1880 at Siétamo, Huesca); Father José Pavón Bueno (b. Jan. 19, 1901 at Peral, Cartegena); Father Nicasio Sierra Ucar (b. Oct. 11, 1890 at Cascante, Navarre).

The martyrs of Aug. 13, 1936 include Javier Luis Bandrés Jiménez (b. Dec. 3, 1912 at Sangüesa, Navarre); José Brengaret Pujol (b. Jan. 18, 1913 at Sant Jordi Desvalls, Gerona); Brother Manuel Buil Lalueza (b. Aug. 31, 1914 at Abizanda, Huesca); Antolín María Calvo y Calvo at Gumiel del Mercado, Burgos); Tomás Capdevila Miró(b. May 5, 1914 at Maldá, Catalonia); Esteban Casadevall Puig (b. March 18, 1913 at Argelaguer, Gerona); Eusebio María Codina Millá (b. Dec. 7, 1914 at Albesa, Lérida); Juan Codinachs Tuneu (b. Feb. 12, 1914 at Santa Eugenia de Berga, Vic); Antonio María Dalmau Rosich (b. Oct. 4, 1912 at Urgell, Lérida); Juan Echarri Vique (b. March 30, 1913 at Olite, Navarre); Pedro García Bernal (b. April 27, 1911 at Santa Cruz de Salceda, Burgos); Hilario María Llorente Martín (b. Jan. 14, 1911 at Vadocondes, Burgos); Brother Alfonso Miquel Garriga (b. Feb. 24, 1914 at Prades de Molsosa); Ramón Novich Rabionet (b. April 8, 1913 at Sellera del Ter, Gerona); José María Ormo Seró (b. Aug. 18, 1913 at Almatret, Lérida); Father Secundino María Ortega García (b. May 20, 1912 at Santa Cruz de la Salceda, Burgos); Salvador Pigem Serra (b. Dec. 15, 1912 at Viloví de Onyar, Gerona); Teodoro Ruiz de Larrinaga García (b. Nov. 9, 1912 at Bargota, Navarre); Juan Sánchez Munárriz (b. June 15, 1913 at Malón, Zaragoza); Manuel Torras Saez (b. Feb. 12, 1915 at Sant Martí Vell, Gerona).

The martyrs of Aug. 15, 1936 include José María Amorós Hernández (b. Jan. 14, 1913 at Puebla Larga, Valencia); José María Badía Mateu (b. Sept. 30, 1912 at Puigpelat, Tarragona); Juan Baixeras Berenguer (b. Nov. 21, 1913 at Castelltersol, Barcelona); José María Blasco Juan (b. Jan. 2, 1912 at Játiva, Valencia); Rafael Briega Morales (b. Oct. 24, 1912 at Zaragoza); Brother Francisco Castán Messeguer (b. Feb. 1, 1911 at Fonz, Huesca); Luis Binefa Escalé (b. Sept. 18, 1912 at Fondarella, Lérida); José Figuero Beltrán (b. Aug. 14, 1911 at Gumiel del Mercado, Burgos); Ramón Illa Salvía (b. Feb. 12, 1914 at Bellvís, Lérida); Luis Lladó Teixidor (b. May 12, 1912 at Viladesens, Gerona); Brother Manuel Martínez Jarauta (b. Dec. 22, 1912 at Murchante, Navarre); Father Luis Masferrer Vila (b. July 9, 1912 at Torelló, Barcelona), who had saved the Eucharist from desecration; Miguel Massip González (b. June 8, 1913 at Llardecans, Lérida); Faustino Pérez García (b. July 30, 1911 at Baríndano, Navarre); Sebastián Riera Coromina (b. Oct. 13, 1913 at Ribas de Fresser, Gerona); Eduardo Ripoll Diego (b. Jan. 9, 1912 at Játiva, Valencia); Francisco Roura Farró (b. Jan. 13, 1913 at Sors, Gerona); José María Ros Florensa (b. Oct. 30, 1914 at Torms, Lérida); Alfonso Sorribes Teixidó (b. Dec. 17, 1912 at Rocafort de Vallbona, Lérida); Agustín Viela Ezcurdia (b. April 4, 1914 at Oteiza de la Solana, Navarre).

The martyrs of Aug. 18, 1936 include Jaime Falgarona Vilanova (b. Jan. 6, 1912 at Argelaguer, Gerona); Atanasio Vidaurreta Labra (b. May 2, 1911 at Adiós, Navarre).

Numerous testimonies remain that witness to the events, including those of two Argentinean Claretians who were spared. The martyrs' own testimony is found in the writings they left on scraps of paper, on bits of chocolate wrappers, and in the inscriptions they made on the back of a piano stool. To the end, they sang, forgave their persecutors, and proclaimed their faith with enthusiasm.

The cause of beatification of the 51 Claretians of Barbastro was introduced shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War. Pope Paul VI put a moratorium on beatifications of Spanish Civil War victims that remained in effect until Pope John Paul II considered the situation in Spain changed and reopened the processes.

Speaking at the beatification in Rome, Pope John Paul II affirmed that "these Claretians died because they were disciples of Christ, because they would not deny their faith and their religious vows with their blood they challenge us to live and die for the Word of God which we all have been called to announce."

Feast: Aug. 13.

Bibliography: gabriel campo villegas, The Claretian Martyrs of Barbastro, August 1936, trans. j. daries (Rome 1992).

[l. brown]