Torró García, Manuel, Bl.

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Lay martyr; b. July 2, 1902, Onteniente (Ontinyent), Valencia, Spain; d. Sept. 21, 1936, Benisoda, Valencia. After finishing his elementary studies in the local public school, Manuel was apprenticed to a surveyor and continued other studies at home under the direction of his uncle, Prudencio Alberto Estan. Always studious, he finished his schooling with the Franciscans before his marriage to the nurse, Rosario Romero Almenar. They had one son who died hours after birth.

His spiritual life was fed through daily reception of the Eucharist and prayer, especially the family rosary. He belonged to the Youth of Catholic Action of which he was president of his parish chapter, the Third Order of St. Francis, and other confraternities. He founded and was president of the Nocturnal Adoration Society. Manuel taught the faith by word as a catechist and by action as a hospital volunteer through the Association of St. Philip Neri. He is described as a serious, hard-working, reliable man, who was especially gifted by the Holy Spirit with serenity, charity, and prudence.

Although not himself a laborer, Torró collaborated with the Catholic Labor Union. Just before the revolution, he was asked to serve as mediator and successfully negotiated terms to avoid a strike.

Prior to 1931 his hometown of Onteniente was considered profoundly Catholic, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and Christ in Agony. Thereafter hostility grew toward the Church. On May 12, 1931, the religious of several monasteries were evicted. The hostility intensified following the elections of Feb. 16, 1936, when the Popular Front attained power. Catholics were arrested and churches and convents destroyed, as were the parish records of San Carlos. The parochial center of Catholic Action was converted into a theater. Twelve priests and 90 lay people who were born or worked in Onteniente were assassinated for their religious beliefs, eight of whom were included in the beatification process in the archdiocese of Valencia.

This was the atmosphere in which Manuel Torró García consciously chose to risk martyrdom, rather than hide his faith. Just days before the revolution the mayor asked Torró, president of the Nocturnal Adoration Society, for a list of members. Recognizing that appearance on the list meant probable martyrdom, he asked the permission of each to include his name. All but two wanted to be identified as members; all were assassinated before 1939.

On Sept. 20, 1936, he spent the day at his parents' home in La Clariana as was usual on Sundays. At midnight the militiamen arrived at the door to take him in for questioning. At that time Torró told his wife that he would be martyred, but that he was prepared. Prior to his execution that same night, Torró offered cigarettes to his assassins, then asked permission to sing the Salve. He was shot together with Vicente galbis gironÉs, two brothers named Velázquez, and a female employee of the brothers. A priest who covertly witnessed the execution related that it occurred about 2 am near the highway between Albaida and Benisoda. As he lay dying of wounds to his stomach, before the shot in the head, Torró wrote the word "salve" in the dirt with his finger.

Torró's mortal remains were buried in Benisoda's cemetery until after the Spanish Civil War when they were transferred, July 18, 1939, to an individual niche in the new cemetery at Onteniente. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II with José Aparicio Sanz and 232 companions on March 11, 2001.

Feast: Sept. 22.

See Also: spain, the catholic church in.

Bibliography: v. cÁrcel ortÍ, Martires españoles del siglo XX (Madrid 1995). w. h. carroll, The Last Crusade (Front Royal, Va. 1996). j. pÉrez de urbel, Catholic Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, tr. m. f. ingrams (Kansas City, Mo. 1993). r. royal, The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century (New York 2000). L'Osservatore Romano, Eng. 11 (March 14, 2001) 14, 12.

[k. i. rabenstein]