March 25, 2014

Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War

The 233 Spanish Martyrs

The 233 Spanish Martyrs, also referred to as The Martyrs of Valencia or Jose Aparico Sanz and 232 Companions, were a group of martyrs from the Spanish Civil War, who were beatified in March 2001 by Pope John Paul II. This was the largest number of persons beatified at once up to that time. They originated from all parts of Spain but mostly served and died in the diocese of Valencia.

The 233 martyrs were clergy, religious and lay persons of the diocese of Valencia who were executed during the Red Terror of the Spanish Civil War. Some 6000 clergy and religious were executed in Spain during this period; of these over 2000 have been proposed for canonization. Up to the present over 1000 have been beatified and 11 canonized. They are regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

The 233 martyrs were made up of 16 separate causes, mostly groups but also some individuals who have been proposed for canonization. The earliest cause was opened in 1952 (that of Tomas Sitjar Fortia and his companions). Most causes were opened in the 1950s, though none were accepted by the CCS until 1990. The most recent cause (Maria Giner Gomis) was opened in 1995 and completed in five years. This was not the first or only group of Spanish martyrs beatified by John Paul II, though it was the largest up to that time.


The beatifications were announced at a ceremony in Rome on 11 March 2001, presided over by Pope John Paul II. In his homily he preached on the Transfiguration and pointed to the example of the martyr's sacrifice, and urged the church in Spain to be worthy of their example. He observed that they were men and women of all ages, and states (clergy, religious, lay persons) and that they had been killed for professing their faith. He pointed out that the martyrs had died forgiving their enemies, and expressed the hope that their example would help to remove the end of hatred and resentment still felt in Spain from those times.


The issue of the Spanish martyrs is controversial, not least because of the Spanish churches identification with the Nationalist cause during the civil war. However John Paul pointed out, generally and in specifics, that those who died in these cases “were not involved in political or ideological struggles nor did they want to be concerned with them” and that “they died solely for religious motives”. He made special mention of Maria Teresa Ferragud, one of the lay companions from Valencia; an 83 year old woman, she was executed along with her four daughters (companions of Aurelio Ample Alcaide), all nuns in contemplative orders.

In addition to Maria Teresa Ferragud and her daughters, the Pope made special mention of Francesco Castello Aleu, a 22 yr old layman, and German Gozalba, at age 23 just 2 months into the priesthood. He also made reference to Consuela and Maria Dolores Aguiar-Mella, two lay companions of Maria Baldilou Bullit, and the first people from Uruguay to be beatified.

The 233 martyrs

The 233 martyrs were advanced in 16 separate causes :

  • Jose Aparicio Sanz and 73 companions, clergy and laypersons of the Diocese of Valencia
  • Jacinto Serrano Lopez and 19 companions of the Dominican Order
  • Pascual Fortuna Almela and 4 companions of the Friars Minor
  • Alfonso Lopez Lopez and 6 companions of the Friars Minor Conventual
  • Aurelio Ample Alcaide and 16 companions of the Friars Minor Capuchin,
  • Josefa Masia Ferragud, a nun of the Discalced Augustinians
  • Tomas Sitjar Fortia and 11 companions of the Society of Jesus
  • Jose Calasanz Marques and 28 companions of the Salesian Society, and two Daughters of Mary
  • Vicente Cabanes Badenas and 18 companions of the Third Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
  • Mariano Garcia Mendez, a priest of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • Leonardo Olivera Buera and 5 companions of the Christian Brothers, also 24 Sisters of Charity
  • Maria Ricart Olmos, a nun of the Servite Order
  • Maria Baldillou Bullit and 5 companions, nuns of the Sisters of the Pious Schools, and 2 laywomen of that order
  • Josefa Ruano Garcia and Dolores Puig Bonany, nuns of the Little Sisters of the Abandoned Elderly
  • Victoria Quintana Argos and 2 companions of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family
  • Maria Giner Gomis, a Claretian Sister
  • Francisco Castello y Aleu, layman of Catholic Action in Lleida

The 522 Spanish Martyrs

The 522 Spanish Martyrs were victims of the Spanish Civil War beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 13 October 2013 by Pope Francis. It was the largest number of persons ever beatified in a single ceremony in the Church's 2000-year history. They originated from all parts of Spain. Their ages ranged from 15 to 78 years old.


The ceremonies were held by Cardinal Angelo Amato in Complex Educatiu, Tarragona, Spain

Individual fates

The 522 martyrs include bishops, priests, male and female religious and faithful of both sexes. Most of them were 16 years old and the oldest was 78. They were from all parts of Spain, including the dioceses of Alcalá de Henares, Ávila, Barbastro, Barcelona, Bilbao, Cartagena, Ciudad Real, Córdoba, Cuenca, Jaén, Lérida, Madrid, Málaga, Menorca, Tarragona, Teruel, Tortosa, Valencia.

The 522 martyrs

The 522 martyrs were advanced in 33 separate causes :

  • Mariano Alcala Perez & 18 Companions from the Mercedarian Province of Aragon
  • Aurelia Arambarri Fuente & 3 Companions from the Servants of Mary, Ministers of the Sick
  • Manuel Basulto Jimenez & 5 Companions from the Diocesan clergy and lay faithful of Jaen
  • Manuel Borras Ferre & 146 Companions from the clergy and religious of the Archdiocese of Tarragona
  • Raymundo Joaquín Castano Gonzalez, professed priest, Dominicans
  • José María Gonzalez Solis, professed priest, Dominicans
  • Melchora Adoración Cortes Bueno & 14 Companions from the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul in the Archdiocese of Madrid
  • Antonio Faundez Lopez & 3 Companions from the Franciscan Friars Minors and Clergy of the Diocese of Cartagena
  • Teófilo Fernandez de Legaria Goni & 4 Companions from the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Picpus)
  • María Montserrat Garcia Solanas & 9 Companions from the Minim nuns and the lay faithful of Barcelona
  • Ricardo Gil Barcelon, professed priest, Sons of Divine Providence
  • Antonio Isidoro Arrue Peiro, layperson of the archdiocese of Valencia; postulant, Sons of Divine Providence
  • Andrés Gonzalez-Diez Gonzalez-Nunez from Palazuelo & 31 Companions from the Franciscan Capuchins of Madrid, Asturias, Cantabria, Malaga, and Alicante
  • Crisanto Gonzalez Garcia, Aquilino Baro Riera, Cipriano José Iglesias Banuelos, Guzmán Becerril Merino & 64 Companions from the Marist Brother of the Schools from the Dioceses of Madrid and Cuenca
  • María Asumpta Gonzalez Trujillano & 2 Companions from the Franciscan Missionaries of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd
  • José Xavier Gorosterratzu Jaunarena & 5 Companions from the Redemptorists of Cuenca
  • Joseph Guardiet Pujol, priest of the Archdiocese of Barcelona
  • Joan Huguet Cardona, priest of the Diocese of Minorca
  • Salvi Huix Miralpeix, priest of the Oratorians; Bishop of Lleida
  • Mauricio Iniguez de Heredia Alzola, & 23 Companions from the Hospitallers of Saint John of God of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Malaga
  • Hermenegildo Iza Aregita of the Assumption & 5 Companions from the Trinitarians of Ciudad Real
  • Joaquín Jovani Marin & 14 Companions from the Diocesan Laborer Priests of Sacred Heart of Jesus
  • Alberto María Marco Aleman, Agustín María Garcia Tribaldos & 23 Companions from the Carmelites of the Ancient Observance and the De La Salle Brothers of Madrid
  • Josefa Martines Perez & 12 Companions from the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and lay faithful of Valencia
  • José Máximo Moro Briz & 4 Companions from the Diocesan Clergy of Avila
  • Carmelo Moyano Linares & 9 Companions from the Carmelites of Ancient Observance of Cordoba
  • Joseph Nadal Guiu, priest of the Diocese of Lleida
  • José Jordan Blecua, priest of the Diocese of Lleida
  • Mauro Palazuelos Maruri & 17 Companions from the Benedictines of El Pueyo
  • Jaume Puig Mirosa & 19 Companions from the Sons of the Holy Family and lay faithful of Catalunya
  • José María Ruiz Cano, Jesús Aníbal Gomez y Gomez, Tomás Cordero y Cordero & 13 Companions from Siguenza
  • Manuel Sanz Dominguez of the Holy Family, professed priest, Hieronymites; restorer
  • Orencio Luis Sola Garriga & 19 Companions, along with Antonio Mateo Salamero from De La Salle Brothers, Diocesan Clergy and lay faithful of Madrid
  • Victoria Valeverde Gonzalez, professed religious, Calasanzian Institute, Daughters of the Divine Shepherdess
  • Fortunato Velasco Tobar & 13 Companions from the Congregation of the Missions (Vincentians)
  • Joan of Jesus Vilaregut Farre & 4 Companions from the Discalced Carmelites and the Diocesan Clergy of Urgell

498 Spanish Martyrs

The 498 Spanish Martyrs were victims of the Spanish Civil War beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in October 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI. It was the greatest numbers of persons ever beatified at once up to that time in the Church's history. They originated from many parts of Spain. Their ages ranged from 15 years to 78 years old. Although almost 500 persons, they are a small part of the Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

The Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War were clergy, religious and lay persons of the Roman Catholic church who were executed during the Spanish Civil War, in a period known as the Red Terror. It is estimated that in the course of the Red Terror 6,832 members of the Catholic clergy were killed. Some 2,000 of these have been proposed for canonization and have had their causes advanced to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS). Pope John Paul II was the first pope to beatify a large number of saints from the Spanish Civil War. About 500 Spanish martyrs were recognized by him in several beatifications since 1987. In this ceremony, Benedict XVI beatified 498 individuals, proposed in 23 separate causes, the largest group to be beatified so far. In addition to these, another 1000 martyrs are awaiting conclusion of their causes in the Vatican.

Individual fates

The 498 martyrs include bishops, priests, male and female religious and faithful of both sexes. Three were 16 years old and the oldest was 78. They were 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. Although Spain was the site of their martyrdom and the homeland of many of them, there were also some who came from other nations, from France, Mexico and Cuba. They are described as "men and women who were faithful to their obligations", and "who were able to forgive their killers".[3] Cruz Laplana Laguna, the bishop of Cuenca, wrote I cannot go, only here is my responsibility, whatever may happen, while Fr. Tirso de Jesús María, a companion of Eusebio Fernandez Arenillas, wrote in the letter sent to his family on the eve of his execution: "Pardon them and bless them and amen to everything, just as I love them and pardon them and bless them.....".

Beatification ceremony

The beatification of the 498 martyrs (list below) took place on Saint Peter's Square not in the Basilica itself, which can include only 60,000 persons. Cardinal José Saraiva Martins who gave the sermon during the beatification ceremonies, stated that these Martyrs all loved Christ and the Church more than their own life. The Cardinal pointed out that the victims of terror forgave their killers, referring to Father Tirso as an example.

The logo of the beatification, because of the very large number of new Blesseds, had as its central theme a red cross, the symbol of love taken to the point of pouring out blood for Christ.

The Cardinal explained the difference between "Martyrs of Spain" and "Spanish Martyrs". Spain was the site of their martyrdom and the homeland of many of them, but there were also some who came from other nations, such as France, Mexico and Cuba. Catholic martyrs are not the exclusive patrimony of a single diocese or nation. Rather, because of their special participation in the Cross of Christ, they belong to the whole world, to the universal Church.
Pope Benedict XVI stated that faith helps to purify reason so that it may succeed in perceiving the truth. The Cardinal invoked the intercession of the Martyrs beatified of Mary, Queen of Martyrs "so that we may follow their example".

Spanish reactions

Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, the secretary-general of the Spanish bishops, replied to criticism that the martyrs were old fashioned conservatives: The first martyrs of the Church died, after they were labeled as traitors of the Roman Empire and during the French Revolution, Catholic priests were defined as enemies of the revolution. The Spanish victims were considered an obstacle to historical progress.

The Spanish bishops stated that Spanish society is threatened by secularism. The 498 Martyrs were thus a reminder of other values. "their beatification intends first of all to render glory to God for the faith which conquers the world" The bishops organized a national pilgrimage to Rome, the place of the beatification of the 498 Martyrs, and the martyrdom of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

The 498 Martyrs

The 498 Martyrs were proposed in 23 separate causes; the Vatican lists them as:

  • Lucas de San José Tristany Pujol, of the Discalced Brothers of the Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel; also Leonardo José Aragonés Mateu, a religious of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (the De La Salle brothers); and Apolonia Lizárraga del Santísimo Sacramento, who was Superior of the Carmelites of Charity, with 61 brothers and sisters of the same orders;
  • Bernardo Fábrega Julià, a Marist Brother;
  • Víctor Chumillas Fernández, Priest of the order of Little Brothers and 21 members of the same order.
  • Antero Mateo García, a lay person was head of family and third order of Saint Dominic. He was slain with 11 others from the second and third order of Saint Dominic.
  • Cruz Laplana y Laguna, the Bishop of Cuenca;and Fernando Españo Berdié, a Priest;
  • Narciso de Esténaga Echevarría, Bishop of Ciudad Real, and ten companions;
  • Liberio González Nombela, priest and twelve companions, all clerics of the Archdiocese of Toledo;
  • Eusebio del Niño Jesús Fernández Arenillas, a religious priest of the Discalced Carmelites, and 15 companions;
  • Félix Echevarría Gorostiaga, Priest, and six companions of his order;
  • Teodosio Rafael, a priest of the Congregation of Christian Brothers and three companions from the same order;
  • Buenaventura García Paredes, a priest and Religious; Miguel Léibar Garay, Priest of the Company of Mary, and forty members of that order.
  • Simón Reynés Solivellas and 5 companions, from the missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary and from the congregation of Franciscan sisters
  • Celestino José Alonso Villar and 9 companions of his order;
  • Ángel María Prat Hostench and 16 companions of the Carmelite order;
  • Enrique Sáiz Aparicio and 62 companions of his Salesian order;
  • Mariano de San José Altolaguirre y Altolaguirre and 9 companions of the order of the Most Holy Trinity.
  • Eufrasio del Niño Jesús Barredo Fernández, Priest of the Carmelite order ;
  • Laurentino Alonso Fuente, Virgilio Lacunza Unzu and 44 companions of the Institute of Marist Brothers;
  • Enrique Izquierdo Palacios, Priest and 13 companions of the order of Hermanos Predicadores;
  • Ovidio Bertrán Anucibay Letona and 5 companions from the Institute of Christian Brothers,together with José María Cánovas Martínez, a diocesan priest;
  • María del Carmen, and Rosa y Magdalena Fradera Ferragutcasas, Sisters of the Congregation Hijas del Santísimo e Inmaculado Corazón de María;
  • Avelino Rodríguez Alonso, Priest, order of the Augustins and 97 companians from the same order, together with Six Diocesan priests,
  • Manuela del Corazón de Jesús Arriola Uranga and 22 companions of the congregation Siervas Adoratrices del Santísimo Sacramento y de la Caridad;

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