On October 28, 2007, the Roman Catholic Church in a historic Beatification, beatified the greatest numbers of persons ever in its 2000 year history, some 498 martyrs from the Civil War in Spain. They originated from all parts of Spain including the dioceses of Barcelona, Burgos, Madrid, Mérida, Oviedo, Seville, Toledo, Albacete, Cartagena, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Gerona, Jaén, Málaga and Santander. Their age ranged from 15 years to 78 old. Although almost 500 persons, they are a small part of the Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.
|Passionist Martyrs of Daimiel|
|Martyred by||Republican regime|
|Means of martyrdom||gunshot|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||October 1, 1989 by Pope John Paul II|
|Major shrine||Daimiel, Spain|
|Attributes||Passionist Habit and Sign|
The Passionist Martyrs of Daimiel were a group of priests and brothers of the Passionist Congregation killed by anti-clericalist forces during the Spanish Civil War.
At 11:30pm on the night of 21 July 1936 a group of armed men arrived at the Passionist monastery of Santo Cristo de la Luz in Daimiel, Spain. The members of the community were gathered for prayer when the superior of the community, Father Niceforo of Jesus, upon hearing the armed men exclaimed
“Gethsemane – this is our Gethsemane. Our spirit is deeply distressed as it contemplates the daunting perspective of Calvary, as was that of Jesus, and so too our human nature, in its weakness, trembles, becomes cowardly… But Jesus is with us. I am going to give you He who is the strength of the weak.. Jesus was comforted by an angel; it is Jesus himself who comforts and sustains us… Within a few moments we will be with Christ… Citizens of Calvary, take heart! Let us die with Christ! It is my duty to encourage you and I myself am encouraged by your example.”
Father Nicefore then gave the community absolution and Holy Communion. The Passionists were ordered out of the church and led to the local cemetery under armed guard. One of the five survivors later remarked ;
The armed men split the Passionists into groups and headed in different directions. The religious were set free but their movements had been observed by the Popular Front and information regarding their locations was sent to various armed fighters in the error using phrases such as
On 23 July 1936, Father Niceforo and four others were shot dead, seven more survived but after suffering from their injuries were executed three months later by firing squad. Nine others were placed on a train to Ciudad Real. They were put in gaol, accused of being religious who were killing people. Then they were led down the street to be mocked and stoned by crowds. These Passionists were shot dead and buried in a mass grave, their alleged crime written on their wrists ‘For being Passionist religious from Daimiel’. Ten other Passionists tried to get to Madrid by train or walking. They were taken off the train at Urda station and there, on the morning of July 25, shot dead. Two others, Father Juan Pedro of Saint Anthony and the elderly Brother Pablo Maria of Saint Joseph managed to walk to Carrion de Calatrava in Ciudad Real where they hid for two months. They were discovered and shot as they kissed their crucifixes and exclaimed “Long Live Christ the King!”
Eye-witnesses reported that all of the Passionists had forgiven their murderers before they died. A witness to the murder of Father Niceforo reported that after being shot the priest turned his eyes to heaven then turned and smiled at his murderers. At this point one of them, now more infuriated than ever, shouted:
“What, are you still smiling?”
With that he shot him at point blank range.
Those who died were:
On July 22, with soldiers roaming the city, the eighteen nuns of the Monastery of St. Joseph scattered through the streets disguised in secular clothes. Some found shelter with Catholic families, and Srs. Maria of the Angels, Maria Pilar, and Teresa, along with two other nuns, hid in the basement of the Hibernia Hotel. Two days later, the five left the hotel, two going to a nearby boarding house, the three martyrs making their way up a street. A soldier eating lunch in a parked jeep recognized them and shouted to her companions, "Shoot them! They are nuns!"
Sr. Maria of the Angels died instantly when a bullet struck her in the heart. Sr. Maria Pilar, also hit, cried out, "Viva Cristo Rey (Long live Christ the King)!" The soldiers, furious at the pious exclamation, shot her repeatedly and slashed her with a knife. She died, having lost most of her blood, saying, "My God, pardon them. They don't know what they're doing."
Sr. Teresa was not harmed, and a soldier, pretending concern, gathered some of his companions and led Teresa to a nearby cemetery, apparently intending to rape her. As they went, she spoke out fearlessly against them, and they angrily insisted she praise communism. To each of their commands she cried, "Viva Cristo Rey!" Told to walk a few steps ahead, she spread her arms in the form of a cross and was shot in the back.
Feast: July 24
From The Saints from A to Z: An Inspirational Dictionary
(Servant Publications) by Cynthia Cavnar, copyright Cynthia Cavnar