Daimiel, Martyrs of, Bb.

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Also known as Nicéforo Diez Tejerina and Companions, 26 religious from the Passionist house of studies, Christ of the Light, outside the city of Daimiel, about 80 miles south of Madrid, Spain; they were Nicefero Diez Tejerina, 43; Ildefonso García Nozal, 38; Pedro Largo Redondo, 29; Justiniano Cuesta Redondo, 26; Eufrasio de Celis Santos, 21; Maurilio Macho Rodríquez, 21; Jose Estalayo García, 21; Julio Mediavilla Concejero, 21; Fulgencio Calvo Sánchez, 19; Honorino Carracedo Ramos, 19; Laurino Proaño Cuesta, 20; Epifanio Sierra Conde, 20; Abilio Ramos Ramos, 19; Anacario Benito Nozal, 30; Felipe Ruiz Fraile, 21; Jose Osés Sáinz, 21; Felix Ugalde Irurzun, 21; Jose Maria Ruiz Martínez, 20; Zacarias Fernández Crespo, 19; Pablo Maria Lopez Portillo, 54; Benito Solana Ruiz, 38; Tomas Cuartero Gascón, 21; Jose Maria Cuartero Gascón, 18; German Pérez Jiménez, 38; Juan Pedro Bengoa Aranguren, 46; Felipe Valcobado Granado, 62; beatified Oct. 1, 1989 by John Paul II.

Born in 1893 in Spain, Nicéfero Tejerina responded to God's call to embrace religious life in the Passionist Congregation. He studied in Toluca, Mexico, but because of the persecution of the Church there during the presidency of Plutarco Calles, he was arrested and later exiled to the United States, where he finished his studies in Chicago. He was ordained by Archbishop George Mundelein in 1916. After ministering in the United States, Mexico, and Cuba, he returned to Spain in 1932 to assume responsibilities as provincial superior of the order there. An antireligious climate swept Spain after the proclamation of the republic in 1931.

In 1936 Nicéforo went to visit the young religious studying for ordination and missionary work, the priests who taught them, and the brothers who served in the community at Daimiel. On the night of July 21, 1936, militiamen entered the Passionist house and ordered the thirty-one religious to leave in one hour. The militiamen ordered the group to the cemetery and told them to flee. At the same time, they alerted companions in the surrounding areas to shoot the religious on sight. The Passionists split into five groups. The first group of nine was captured and shot to death outside the train station of Carabanchel in Madrid on July 22, 1936.

The second group of twelve, Father Nicéforo among them, was taken at the station at Manzanares and shot by a firing squad. Nicéforo and four others died immediately; seven were taken to the hospital where one later died. Six of them recovered, only to be shot to death later on October 23, 1936. Three other religious, traveling together, were executed at the train station of Urda (Toledo) on July 25. Two gave their lives at Carrion de Calatrave on September 25. Only five of the thirty-one religious were spared. Numerous eyewitnesses testified afterwards to the brave faith and courage shown by the Daimiel community in their final moments, especially the signs of forgiveness they gave their executioners. Today their bodies are interred in the Passionist house at Daimiel.

At their beatification John Paul II said of them: "None of the religious of the community of Daimiel was involved in political matters. Nonetheless, within the climate of the historical period in which they lived, they were arrested because of the tempest of religious persecution, generously shedding their blood, faithful to their religious state of life, and emulating, in the twentieth century, the heroism of the Church's first martrys" (Homily, Oct. 1, 1989).

Feast: July 23.

[v. hoagland]