Biographies of New Blesseds - 2005
The following Blesseds were beatified under Benedict XVI in 2005:

Anacleto González Flores
Andrés Solá y Molist
Ángel Darío Acosta Zurita
Ascensión of the Heart of Jesus Nicol Goñi
Bronislao Markiewicz
Charles de Foucauld
Clemens August Von Galen
Eurosia Fabris
Ignatius Kłopotowski
Jorge and Ramón Vargas González
José Dionisio Luis Padilla Gómez
José Luciano Ezequiel Huerta Gutiérrez
José Sánchez del Rio
José Trinidad Rangel Montaño
Joseph Tápies
Ladislaus Findysz
Leonardo Pérez Larios
Luis Magaña Servin
Maria Crocifissa Curcio
Maria Pia Mastena
Marianne Cope
Mary of the Angels Ginard Martí
Miguel Gómez Loza
Salvador Huerta Gutiérrez

14 May 2005

Bl. Marianne Cope (1838-1918)
Virgin, Professed Sister of St Francis, missionary to leprosy patients

Barbara Koob (now officially "Cope") was born on 23 January 1838 in SE Hessen, West Germany. She was one of 10 children born to Peter Koob, a farmer, and Barbara Witzenbacher Koob. The year after Barbara's birth, the family moved to the United States.
The Koob family found a home in Utica, in the State of New York, where they became members of St Joseph's Parish and where the children attended the parish school.

Sisters of St Francis

Although Barbara felt called to Religious life at an early age, her vocation was delayed for nine years because of family obligations. As the oldest child at home, she went to work in a factory after completing eighth grade in order to support her family when her father became ill.

Finally, in the summer of 1862 at age 24, Barbara entered the Sisters of St Francis in Syracuse, N.Y. On 19 November 1862 she received the religious habit and the name "Sr Marianne", and the following year she made her religious profession and began serving as a teacher and principal in several elementary schools in New York State.

She joined the Order in Syracuse with the intention of teaching, but her life soon became a series of administrative appointments.

God had other plans

As a member of the governing boards of her Religious Community in the 1860s, she participated in the establishment of two of the first hospitals in the central New York area.
In 1870, she began a new ministry as a nurse-administrator at St Joseph's in Syracuse, N.Y., where she served as head administrator for six years. During this time she put her gifts of intelligence and people skills to good use as a facilitator, demonstrating the energy of a woman motivated by God alone.

Although Mother Marianne was often criticized for accepting for treatment "outcast" patients such as alcoholics, she became well-known and loved in the central New York area for her kindness, wisdom and down-to-earth practicality.

In 1883, Mother Marianne, now the Provincial Mother in Syracuse, received a letter from a Catholic priest asking for help in managing hospitals and schools in the Hawaiian Islands, and mainly to work with leprosy patients. The letter touched Mother Marianne's heart and she enthusiastically responded: "I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones, whose privilege it will be to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders.... I am not afraid of any disease, hence, it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned 'lepers'".

A mother to the lepers

She and six other Sisters of St Francis arrived in Honolulu in November 1883. With Mother Marianne as supervisor, their main task was to manage the Kaka'ako Branch Hospital on Oahu, which served as a receiving station for patients with Hansen's disease gathered from all over the islands.

The Sisters quickly set to work cleaning the hospital and tending to its 200 patients. By 1885, they had made major improvements to the living conditions and treatment of the patients.

In November of that year, they also founded the Kapi'olani Home inside the hospital compound, established to care for the healthy daughters of Hansen's disease patients at Kaka'ako and Kalawao. The unusual decision to open a home for healthy children on leprosy hospital premises was made because only the Sisters would care for those so closely related to people with the dreaded disease.

Bl. Damien and Mother Marianne

Mother Marianne met Fr Damien de Veuster (today Blessed Damien is known as the "Apostle to Lepers") for the first time in January 1884, when he was in apparent good health. Two years later, in 1886, after he had been diagnosed with Hansen's disease, Mother Marianne alone gave hospitality to the outcast priest upon hearing that his illness made him an unwelcome visitor to Church and Government leaders in Honolulu.

In 1887, when a new Government took charge in Hawaii, its officials decided to close the Oahu Hospital and receiving station and to reinforce the former alienation policy. The unanswered question: Who would care for the sick, who once again would be sent to a settlement for exiles on the Kalaupapa Peninsula on the island of Molokai?

In 1888, Mother Marianne again responded to the plea for help and said: "We will cheerfully accept the work She arrived in Kalaupapa several months before Fr Damien's death together with Sr Leopoldina Burns and Sr Vincentia McCormick, and was able to console the ailing priest by assuring him that she would provide care for the patients at the Boys' Home at Kalawao that he had founded.

Optimism, serenity, trust in God

Together the three Sisters ran the Bishop Home for 103 Girls and the Home for Boys. The workload was extreme and the burden at times seemed overwhelming. In moments of despair, Sr Leopoldina reflected: "How long, 0 Lord, must I see only those who are sick and covered with leprosy?".

Mother Marianne's invaluable example of never-failing optimism, serenity and trust in God inspired hope in those around her and allayed the Sisters' fear of catching leprosy. She taught her Sisters that their primary duty was "to make life as pleasant and as comfortable as possible for those of our fellow creatures whom God has chosen to afflict with this terrible disease...".

Mother Marianne never returned to Syracuse. She died in Hawaii on 9 August 1918 of natural causes and was buried on the grounds of Bishop Home.


Bl. Ascensión of the Heart of Jesus Nicol Goñi (1868-1940)
Virgin, Co-Foundress of the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary

Ascensión Nicol Goñi was born on 14 March 1868 in Tafalla, Navarra, Spain, the youngest of four children. As a child, she had many duties, including helping her family with the household chores.

When she was 14, Ascensión went to St Rose of Lima boarding school in the city of Huesca. Contact with the Dominican Religious there made her consider her own vocation, and she gradually came to understand that God was leading her to the Religious life.

Called to be a Dominican

At the end of her schooling Ascensión made the decision to become a Dominican; however, she first returned home, where she remained for a year in order to make sure that her decision was the right one.

In 1885 Ascension returned to the school, this time to enter the novitiate there. A year later, she made her first vows and began to work as a teacher.

Although she taught for 28 years, her deep desire was to serve the poorest, even those living in far-away lands. Some other Sisters felt the same way.

When the Government stripped the Religious Community of Huesca of its school, the Sisters lost the larger part of their work and apostolate. They immediately wrote to America and to the Philippines to offer their availability.

Into the Peruvian forest

In 1913, Bishop Ramon Zubieta, O.P., from the Apostolic Vicariate of Porto Maldonado in the Peruvian forest, arrived in Huesca holding the letter written by the Sisters. He was eager to have them come to serve in Peru, and as soon as Mother Ascensión said her name, she was accepted.

In November of that year, a first group travelled to Peru, with five Sisters among them. They arrived on 30 December, accompanied by Bishop Zubieta, an expert in difficult missionary expeditions.

The Religious were welcomed and took up residence in a Dominican convent in Lima, which became their temporary headquarters as they prepared for their trip to the new Apostolic Vicariate.

A long and risky voyage

Mother Ascensión and two other Sisters were the first missionaries to reach the forest. The news of their arrival caused much rejoicing in Lima, since never before had anyone carried out such a long and risky journey, trekking through the Andes and navigating down dangerous rivers.

In 1915, this 24-day adventure led Mother Ascensión to her first mission in Porto Maldonado and marked the beginning of her "call to the missions". Here, she dedicated herself to the education of children and the advancement of women, bringing God to the poor and abandoned.

The Sisters started a boarding school for poor girls; they also opened their home to the sick who came to them for assistance when no other help could be found. The Sisters then visited the sick and provided for their basic care. Wherever there was a need, the Sisters sought to meet it, thereby broadening their apostolic ministry.

Always in God's presence

Mother Ascensión was an example of unwavering faith and truly lived a life of prayer, always in God's presence. It did not matter whether she was travelling by boat, canoe or mule, or whether she was in the enchanting Peruvian forest, alone or with the people.
It was especially in the young people, in the sick and in the women (who lived so differently from anything Mother Ascensión was accustomed to) that she experienced God in a very strong way. She once said: "I cannot explain what my soul is experiencing.... Never have I felt so close to God as I have in these 16 months in the mountains".

A new Religious Congregation

Neither Mother Ascensión nor Bishop Zubieta had the intention of starting a new Religious Institute; rather, it was the Master General of the Dominicans who advised this.
Thus, on 5 October 1918, vigil of the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, they founded the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary,

As Co-Foundress, Mother Ascensión was appointed Superior General of the new Congregation, a role to which she dedicated the rest of her life. She died on 24 February 1940.


19 June 2005

Bl. Ladislaus Findysz (1907-1964)
Priest, Martyr

Ladislaus Findysz was born on 13 December 1907 in Krościenko Niżne, Poland, to Stanislaus Findysz and Apollonia Rachwał.

He went to elementary school run by the Felician Sisters in his hometown, and then to a State-run grammar school. As a young pupil Ladislaus joined the Marian Sodality. After high school, he moved to Przemyśl where he entered the major seminary, studying philosophy and theology.

He was ordained a priest on 19 June 1932, and his first assignment was as assistant curate in the parish of Borysław (today in the Ukraine).

On 17 September 1935 he was appointed curate in the parish of Drohobycz, and he was given responsibility in various parishes until 1942, when he was appointed on 13 August as parish priest of SS. Peter and Paul Apostles in Nowy Żmigród .
Parish activity, experience of war

Three years as pastor in Nowy Żmigród were marked by his unfailing commitment to pastoral work and the painful experiences of the War.

On 3 October 1944, along with the rest of the town's inhabitants, Fr Findysz was expelled by the Germans. He was able to return on 23 January 1945, when he immediately began the parish's reorganization and its moral and religious renewal.

Fr Findysz gave his all to protect the faithful, especially youth, from the systematic and intensive atheism imposed by Communism. He also helped the townspeople financially, regardless of nationality or denomination.

From 1946 onward, he was placed under surveillance by the secret service; in 1952 academic authorities suspended him from teaching catechism in the secondary school.

As far as the ecclesiastical authorities were concerned, Fr Findysz was considered a zealous parish priest, recognized as an honorary canon in 1946.

In 1957 he was appointed vice-dean of the Nowy Żmigród deanery, and then dean in 1962.

In 1963 he began what was called the "Conciliar Works of Charity", writing letters exhorting and encouraging the parishioners living in irregular religious and moral situations to reorder their Christian lives. The Communists reacted severely to this activity and
accused him of forcing the faithful to participate in religious rites and practices.

Arrested in 1963

On 25 November 1963, after having been interrogated by the Procurator of Rzeszów, he was arrested and imprisoned in Rzesz6w Castle. From 16-17 December his trial took place in the Tribunal of Rzeszów, and he was condemned and given a custodial sentence of two years and six months.

The motivation for the investigation, accusation and subsequent condemnation of Fr Findysz was based on the Decree for the "Protection of the Freedom of Conscience and Denomination" of 5 August 1949. This, however, was simply a tool used by the Communist authorities to restrict and ultimately eliminate faith and the Catholic Church from Polish public and private life.

Fr Findysz was also publicly discredited, libelled and condemned through specifically edited publications in the press. He was imprisoned in Rzeszów Castle, where he suffered from malnutrition and was subjected to physical, psychological and spiritual humiliation.

On 25 January 1964 he was transferred to the central prison in Montelupich Street in Krakow.

Condemned to a 'slow death'

Just before his arrest in September 1963, he had undergone a serious operation to remove his thyroid gland and was waiting for a second operation, planned for December of that year, to remove a cancerous growth in the oesophagus. The planned surgery to remove the growth and a blockage of the stomach was postponed, and due to a lack of proper care and the requisite medical expertise his health deteriorated. In reality, he was condemned to a slow death.

Fr Findysz's lawyer and the diocesan curia of Przemyśl petitioned the Procurator of the Tribunal of Rzeszów for the suspension of his sentence on the grounds of his poor health and the risk of death. While initially refused, these requests were finally accepted by the Supreme Court in Warsaw at the end of February 1964.

Release from prison

Given the serious state of his health, Fr Findysz returned to Nowy Żmigród on 29 February 1964. Showing great patience and submission to God's will he continued to work, bravely bearing his painful symptoms and exhaustion.

In April he was admitted to the specialist hospital in Wrocław; in spite of the treatment, clinical tests confirmed the diagnosis of inoperable cancer between the oesophagus and stomach. He returned home.

On 21 August 1964, after having received the sacraments, Fr Ladislaus died in the presbytery of Nowy Żmigród . He has been recognized as a Martyr for the faith.


Bl. Bronislao Markiewicz (1842-1912)
Priest, Founder of the Congregation of St Michael the Archangel

Bronislao Markiewicz was born on 13 July 1842 in Pruchnik, Poland, the sixth of 11 children to John Markiewicz and Marianna Gryziecka.

Although he received a solid religious formation from his parents, he lived through a deep spiritual crisis during his high school years in Przemyśl, caused by an anti-religious climate that existed in the school.

Calm after the storm

When he finally emerged from this period of unrest, he experienced a newfound peace and serenity, and decided to dedicate his entire life to the service of others.

Shortly thereafter, Bronislao felt called to the priesthood, and in 1863 he entered the Seminary of Przemyśl .

He was ordained a priest on 15 September 1867 and began to serve as parochial vicar in the Parish of Harta and at the Cathedral of Przemyśl. During this time, he studied pedagogy, philosophy and history at the Universities of Leopoli and of Krakow, sensing that God wished him to gain more experience to work with youth.

'Call within a call'

In 1875 he was appointed as parish priest at Gac, and in 1877 at Błażowa. He also taught pastoral theology at the Major Seminary of Przemyśl in 1882.

Amid all this activity, Fr Markiewicz perceived a "call within a call", and believed that he was called to the Religious life.

In November 1885 he left for Italy and joined the Salesians. And in the hands of St John Bosco, the Salesians' Founder, he professed his religious vows on 25 March 1887.

As a Salesian Fr Markiewicz carried out the various tasks assigned to him by his superiors, striving to accomplish them with dedication and zeal. Due to the change of climate and his austere lifestyle, however, he fell gravely ill in 1889 and nearly died.

But he eventually did recover and convalesced in Italy until 23 March 1892. With the permission of his superiors, he returned to Poland where he was assigned a parish at Miejsce Piastowe in Przemyśl .

'Temperance and Work'

In addition to his pastoral work, Fr Markiewicz dedicated himself to the formation of poor and orphaned youth in the spirit of St John Bosco. He opened an institute to provide them with material and spiritual support and to qualify them to work, preparing them for life by means of professional formation in the schools located near the institute itself.

To carry on his work, he left the Salesians in 1897 with the intention of establishing a new Religious family always with the spirit of St John Bosco, but with special attention to the needs of the poor in Galizia.

The new Community, which he called Temperance and Work, focused on educating abandoned children and youth. As the Community grew, Fr Markiewicz patiently awaited ecclesiastical approval.

At Miejsce Piastowe he offered a home and formation to hundreds of children. In August 1903 he opened a new house in Pawlikowice, near Krakow, where more than 400 orphans received spiritual and professional formation.

The 'Michaelites'

His total dedication to children, heroic self-denial and the enormous amount of work he accomplished so quickly exhausted his strength, which was already weakened by his illness in Italy. All of this led rather rapidly to the end of his earthly pilgrimage, and Fr Bronislao Markiewicz died on 29 January 1912 at the age of 69.

The community he founded, known today as the Congregation of St Michael the Archangel (commonly known as the "Michaelites"), received ecclesiastical approval after his death: the male branch in 1921 and the female branch in 1928.

These institutes carry on their apostolate in parishes, popular missions, retreats, editorial activities, several shrines and vocational work in many countries: Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Canada, New Guinea, Argentina, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic and the Dutch Antilles.


Bl. Ignatius Kłopotowski (1866-1931)
Priest, Found of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto

Ignatius Kłopotowski was born on 20 July 1866 in Korzeniówka, Poland. He received from his parents a solid religious education as well as a love for his native Polish Homeland.

In 1883, Ignatius entered the Major Seminary of Lublin. On 5 July 1891, in the hands of Bishop Franciszek Jaczewski, he was ordained a priest in the Cathedral of Lublin.

Initial duties as a priest

Following priestly ordination, Fr Ignatius was appointed parochial vicar of the Conversion of St Paul Parish. In 1892 he was made chaplain of St Vincent's Hospital and began teaching at the Major Seminary; here, for 14 years, he taught sacred scripture, catechetics, homiletics, moral theology and canon law.

From 1892 to 1894 he served as vicar of the Cathedral of Lublin and then was appointed rector of the Church of St Stanislaus, where he provided assistance to the persecuted Greek Catholic faithful.

Fr Kłopotowski was well aware of the living conditions of so many of his compatriots, who were immersed, as it were, in extreme material as well as moral misery, without education and employment.

Healing the wounds of society

In the face of such a tragic reality, the young priest found he could not remain indifferent and began founding numerous charitable institutions: an employment home in Lublin; a professional school; a home for the rehabilitation of troubled girls and women forced into prostitution; even homes for orphans and for the elderly.

With the help of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Immaculate, Fr Ignatius also founded a chain of rural schools; for this, however, he suffered repression on the part of the Russian Authorities.

Fr Kłopotowski was also very concerned with providing spiritual assistance to the poorest and neediest. Already in the early years of his priesthood, he published books on the topics of prayer and spiritual brochures on many issues.

In 1905, he began publishing the magazine "Polak-Katolik" ("Polish-Catholic"), followed by weekly and monthly newspapers.

In 1908, Fr Ignatius transferred his editorial work to Warsaw in order to increase productivity and start new publications.

Founder, father, protector

To maintain and regulate such demanding editorial work, Fr Kłopotowski founded the "Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Loreto" in Warsaw on 31 July 1920, with the approval of the Apostolic Nuncio at the time, Archbishop Achille Ratti (the future Pope Pius XI).

To meet the needs of poor children and elderly women, he opened health centres and soup kitchens. The beloved priest was known as a "true father and protector of the orphaned".
Fr Ignatius Kłopotowski died on 7 September 1931 and was buried in the Polish cemetery of Powązki.

The Congregation received recognition as a Congregation of Pontifical Right in 1971. Today, there are 24 houses and 220 Religious who make up the Order.


9 October 2005

Bl. Clemens August Von Galen (1878-1946)
Bishop of Münster, Cardinal

Clemens August von Galen was born on 16 March 1878 in Dinklage Castle, Oldenburg, Germany, the 11th of 13 children born to Count Ferdinand Heribert and Elisabeth von Spee.

His father belonged to the noble family of Westphalia, who since 1660 governed the village of Dinklage. For over two centuries his ancestors carried out the inherited office of camerlengo of the Diocese of Münster.

Clemens August grew up in Dinklage Castle and in other family seats. Due to the struggle between Church and State, he and his brothers were sent to a school run by the Jesuits in Feldkirch, Austria.

He remained there until 1894, when he transferred to the Antonianum in Vechta. After graduation, he studied philosophy and theology in Frebur, Innsbruck and Münster, and was ordained a priest on 28 May 1904 for the Diocese of Munster by Bishop Hermann Dingelstadt.

Parish priest, concern for poor

His first two years as a priest were spent as vicar of the diocesan cathedral where he became chaplain to his uncle, Bishop Maximilian Gerion von Galen.

From 1906 to 1929, Fr. von Galen carried out much of his pastoral activity outside Münster: in 1906 he was made chaplain of the parish of St. Matthias in Berlin-Schönberg; from 1911 to 1919 he was curate of a new parish in Berlin before becoming parish priest of the Basilica of St. Matthias in Berlin-Schönberg, where he served for 10 years; here, he was particularly remembered for his special concern for the poor and outcasts.

In 1929, Fr. von Galen was called back to Münster when Bishop Johannes Poggenpohl asked him to serve as parish priest of the Church of St. Lambert.

'Nec laudibus, nec timore'

In January 1933, Bishop Poggenpohl died, leaving the See vacant. After two candidates refused, on 5 September 1933 Fr. Clemens was appointed Bishop of Münster by Pope Pius XI.

On 28 October 1933 he was consecrated by Cardinal Joseph Schulte, Archbishop of Cologne; Bishop von Galen was the first diocesan Bishop to be consecrated under Hitler's regime.

As his motto, he chose the formula the rite of episcopal consecration: "nec laudibus, nec timore" (Neither praise nor threats will distance me from God).

Throughout the 20 years that Bishop von Galen was curate and parish priest in Berlin, he wrote on various political and social issues; in a pastoral letter dated 26 March 1934, he wrote very clearly and critically on the "neopaganism of the national socialist ideology".

Due to his outspoken criticism, he was called to Rome by Pope Pius XI in 1937 together with the Bishop of Berlin, to confer with them on the situation in Germany and speak of the eventual publication of an Encyclical.

On 14 March 1937 the Encyclical "Mit brennender Sorge" (To the Bishops of Germany: The place of the Catholic Church in the German Reich) was published. It was widely circulated by Bishop von Galen, notwithstanding Nazi opposition.

'Lion of Münster'

In the summer of 1941, in answer unwarranted attacks by the National Socialists, Bishop von Galen delivered three admonitory sermons between July and August. He spoke in his old parish Church of St. Lambert and in Liebfrauen-Ueberlassen Church, since the diocesan cathedral had been bombed.

In his famous speeches, Bishop von Galen spoke out against the State confiscation of Church property and the programmatic euthanasia carried out by the regime.

The clarity and incisiveness of his words and the unshakable fidelity of Catholics in the Diocese of Münster embarrassed the Nazi regime, and on 10 October 1943 the Bishop's residence was bombed. Bishop von Galen was forced to take refuge in nearby Borromeo College.

From 12 September 1944 on, he could no longer remain in the city of Münster, destroyed by the war; he left for the zone of Sendenhorst.

In 1945, Vatican Radio announced that Pope Pius XII was to hold a Consistory and that the Bishop of Münster was also to be present.

Creation of a Cardinal

After a long and difficult journey, due to the war and other impediments, Bishop von Galen finally arrived in the "Eternal City". On 21 February 1946 the Public Consistory was held in St. Peter's Basilica and Bishop von Galen was created a Cardinal.

On 16 March 1946 the 68-year-old Cardinal returned to Münster. He was cordially welcomed back by the city Authorities and awarded honorary citizenship by the burgomaster.

On the site of what remained of the cathedral, Cardinal von Galen gave his first (and what would be his last) discourse to the more than 50,000 people who had gathered, thanking them for their fidelity to the then-Bishop of Münster during the National Socialist regime. He explained that as a Bishop, it was his duty to speak clearly and plainly about what was happening.

No one knew that the Cardinal was gravely ill, and when he returned to Münster on 19 March 1946 he had to undergo an operation.

Cardinal von Galen died just three days later, on 22 March. He was buried on 28 March in the Ludgerus Chapel, which has become a place of pilgrimage to this defender of the faith in the face of political oppression.


29 October 2005

Bl. Joseph Tápies (1869-1936) and Six Companions
Priests and martyrs

The seven priests of the Diocese of Urgell, Spain, assassinated out of hatred for the faith during the persecution as part of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), were imprisoned in the city of La Pobla de Segur (Lleida, Catalonia). They were shot to death at the gateway to the cemetery of the nearby town of Salás de Pallars in August 1936.

Their names are: Joseph Tàpies Sirvant; Pascal Araguás Guárdia; Silvester Arnau Pasqüet; Joseph Boher Foix; Francis Castells Brenuy; Peter Martret Moles; and Joseph John Perot Juanmartí.

Joseph Tàpies Sirvant was born in Ponts, Lleida. Spain, in 1869 and was ordained a priest in 1892. He carried out his priestly ministry as parochial vicar and as church organist in La Pobla de Segur. He was known for his integrity, steadfastness and goodness to all, and people sought him out for his gift of good counsel.

Passing in front of his parish church on the truck that was to carry him to his death, he said: "Goodbye, Blessed Virgin of Ribera, I am going to Heaven!".

Pascal Araguás Guárdia was born in Pont de Claverol, Lleida, in 1899 and was ordained a priest in 1923 in the Cathedral of "Santa Maria de La Seu" of Urgell. He served as coadjutor and econome in various parishes and was parish priest of Noals. He was known for his humble and gentle character, and people remembered him as a person always dedicated to proclaiming God's glory and to living, thinking and working for the good of others.

When he arrived at Salás de Pallars and began climbing the slope to the execution site, he said: "I will climb up barefoot, just as Jesus climbed up to Calvary".

Silvester Arnau Pasqüet was born in Gósol, Lleida, in 1911 and was ordained a priest in 1935. He served as parochial vicar of La Pobla de Segur. He was known for his deep spirituality born from an intense cultivation of ascetical and mystical theology. He was the youngest of 107 priests of Urgell to be assassinated.

Fr. Arnau would tell the ether priests: "We must be ready in every moment to be persecuted and prepare ourselves for martyrdom. We must desire this and if the Lord grants such a thing to me, it will be a very special grace".

In answer to repeated offers to save his young life by leaving the other priests, he replied that he would never leave them or his parish priest. "Wherever the parish priest goes, I will follow him". They were imprisoned, condemned and martyred together.

Joseph Boher Foix was born in Sant Salvador de Toló, Lleida, in 1887 and was ordained a priest in 1914. He served as coadjutor and econome in various parishes, and in 1929 he was appointed parish priest of Pobleta de Bellveí. He was pious, intelligent and well loved by all.

When soldiers came looking for him in the parish he held his ground, but he was taken away, led to trial with the other priests. At the cemetery he said: "Here is my wallet with everything I have; I give it to you so that together with committing a crime you do not commit theft".

At the moment of death, he cried out: "I forgive you in the name of all. Long live Christ the King!".

Francis Castells Brenuy was born in La Pobla de Segur, Lleida, in 1866. In 1889 he was ordained a priest and appointed prefect and professor of philosophy in the diocesan seminary. He also served in various parishes and was econome of the parish of El Poal. During the persecution in 1936 he was arrested and abused. Afterwards, he went to stay with his family in La Pobla de Segur, where he was again arrested, tried and condemned to death.

As he arrived at the execution site, a member of the commission was heard to say: "We can let Fr. Castells go free"; but another replied that no priest should be freed and that his greatest joy would be to see him executed. Fr. Castells answered: "I forgive you", and the other responded: "I do not need anyone's forgiveness".

Peter Martret Moles was born in Seu de Urgell, Lleida, in 1901 and was ordained a priest in 1925. He carried out his priestly ministry in various parishes, and in 1931 he was appointed as econome of the parish of La Pobla de Segur. He was a learned, energetic, dynamic priest who promoted the "Federation of Christian Youth of Catalonia", part of Catholic Action.

Fr. Martret was imprisoned together with his coadjutors and killed, offering his life for the good of the faithful of La Pobla de Segur.

Joseph John Perot Juanmartí was born in Boulonge, France, 1877. When he was young he moved to Oliana, Lleida, Spain, and studied in the diocesan seminary of Urgell. He was ordained a priest it 1903 and served in different diocesan parishes. In 1921 he was appointed parish priest of "Sant Jean di Vinyafrescal".

When he heard that soldiers were coming to take him to trial and to death, he courageously responded: "If they come for me, I will be here waiting".

These and many other priests were executed during the Spanish Civil War simply because they were priests; they could be accused of nothing else.
 

Bl. Mary of the Angels Ginard Martí (1894-1936)
Professed Religious Sister, Martyr

Angela Ginard Marti was born on 3 April 1894 in Llucmajor, Majorca, Spain, the third of nine children born to Sebastiano Ginard Garcia and Margherita Martí Canals. She was baptized two days later and given the name "Angela".

On 14 April 1905 she made her first Holy Communion and from that moment on she felt called to the Religious life, having been influenced especially by her mother's frequent visits to two of her aunts who were nuns.

Angela's family moved to Palma de Mallorca when she was still young; here, together with her two older sisters, she began to earn money by embroidering and making hats for women, while at the same time tending to the household chores and caring for her younger brothers and sisters, teaching them to pray, reading Holy Scripture to them and helping them to learn the catechism.

Daily itinerary of prayer

Angela would rise early in the morning to participate in Holy Mass at Most Holy Trinity Parish, and during the day she visited the Blessed Sacrament, recited the Holy Rosary and offered prayers for special intentions.

Such a disciplined schedule kept Angela away from the pastimes typical of children her age and gave her the interior affirmation to be called to Religious life.

When she was 20, Angela sought her parents' permission to enter the monastery of "San Bartolomeo di Inc". They told their daughter to think it over carefully and to wait awhile; indeed, they did not want to oppose a call to Religious life, but Angela's help was still needed at home. She understood her parents, and without giving up hope she agreed to wait patiently.

Entrance into the convent

After a few years had passed, Angela once again asked permission to enter the convent, and this time her parents gladly consented. On 26 November 1921, she entered the Congregation of the Zealous Sisters of Eucharistic Adoration.

Angela adapted immediately to her new life, which centred around adoration of the Blessed Sacrament here, she drew the strength to live community life in an almost supernatural way and was an example to the other Sisters of goodness, simplicity, piety and obedience.

After her first vows, the new Sr. Mary of the Angels was sent first to Madrid, then to Barcelona and then back to Madrid, where she was appointed as superior of the convent. She was there in 1936 when the Spanish Civil War broke out and religious persecution came to the fore with the burning of churches and convents, while priests, Religious and lay faithful were severely threatened.

'Solution' to Spanish Civil War

Deeply disturbed by these events, Sr. Mary of the Angels tried to find a "solution". and in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament she asked what she was to do. With trusting surrender to God's providence, she offered her life to him as a martyr, were this his will.

On 20 July 1936 the Sisters finally had to flee from their convent, escaping dressed as lay people. While fearful of the future, they were comforted by the words of Sr. Mary of the Angels: "All they can do to us is to kill us, nothing more".

For her, the destruction and persecution of what was religious was worse than any threat of being killed.

Sr. Mary of the Angels was forced to hide in the home of a family who lived nearby the convent. Sadly, however, she was able to see from their home the destruction of the church, her convent and many religious objects.

On the evening of 25 August, members of the military finally discovered her whereabouts and came to take Sr. Mary of the Angels away. Upon entering the home, they immediately arrested the landlord's sister, who had allowed Sr. Mary of the Angel's to live there.

With great courage and charity, Sr. Mary told the troops: "The woman you have taken hold of is not a Religious; I am the only Religious here".

With these words, she saved the life of another and was destined to be a martyr.

'The little walk'

The troops bound her and led her away; the following day, she was forced to take "the little walk" to the locality of Dehesa de la Villa.

Here, a firing squad shot and killed Sr. Mary of the Angels. Her mortal remains now rest in the chapel of the convent of the Zealous Sisters of Eucharistic Adoration, in Madrid.


6 November 2005

Bl. Eurosia Fabris (1866-1932)
Wife, Mother, Third Order Franciscan

Eurosia Fabris was born on 27 September 1866 in Quinto Vicentino,  near Vicenza, Italy. Her parents, Luigi and Maria Fabris, were farmers.

In 1870, at the age 4, Eurosia moved with her family to Marola, where she lived for the rest of her life. While growing up, she was only permitted to attend the first two years of elementary school because she was obliged to help her parents with farm work and household chores; she also helped her mother as a dressmaker. With the help of the Holy Scriptures and religious books, however, Eurosia learned how to read and write.

The 'apostle of good will'

After she made her first Holy Communion when she was 12, she joined the Association of the Daughters of Mary and diligently observed the practices of the group which increased in her a love for Mary.

Eurosia was an "apostle of good will" in her family, among friends and in the parish where she taught catechism and sewing to the girls who came to her home. Her virtue and pleasant personality did not go unnoticed by the young men of the village, and although several proposed marriage to her, she did not feel called to accept.

An exceptional motherhood

In 1885, Eurosia was affected by a tragic event that forever changed her life.

When a young married woman near her home died, leaving three very young daughters, Eurosia's heart went out to these orphans, with the youngest dying shortly after her mother's death. From that moment on, Eurosia took them under her wing, as if they were her own.

For six months, she went every morning to look after the two little girls and take care of their home. Later, following the advice of her relatives and of the parish priest, and praying over this sudden turn of events in her life, she decided to marry.

On 5 May 1586 she was joined in marriage to a man named Carlo Barban, and was well aware of the sacrifices that married life would hold for her in the future. She accepted this fact as the will of God, who she now felt was calling her through these two babies to embrace a new mission.

The parish priest would often comment "This was a true act of heroic charity towards others".

'Mamma Rosa'

In addition to the two adopted children. Eurosia and Carlo had nine other children and their home was always open to additional children as well. Eurosia offered affection and care to all, sacrificing her own needs to provide a solid Christian formation to all these children. She was known to everyone as "Mamma Rosa".

Between 1918 and 1921, three of her sons were ordained priests. Two for the diocesan clergy and one as a Franciscan (Fr. Bernardino), who would later become her first biographer.

She showed the greatest love and respect for her husband and became his confidant and adviser. She was a hard worker and a person who could be counted on to fulfil her duties.

Eurosia lived an intense life of prayer, and was especially devoted to the Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mamma Rosa's family home was an ideal Christian community where her children were taught to pray, obey, respect God's will and practise Christian virtues.

She also became a member of :he Franciscan Third Order, attending all of the meetings and striving to live the true Franciscan spirit of poverty and joy in her home, in the midst of daily work and prayer.

Eurosia showed heroic strength during the final illness of her husband, who died in 1930. She her-self died just two years later, on 8 January 1932, and was buried in the Church of Marola.


13 November 2005

Bl. Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916)
Diocesan Priest

Charles de Foucauld was born into a distinguished and devout family on 15 September 1858 in Strasbourg, France. When he was only 5 years old he was left an orphan and, together with his sister Maria, was entrusted to the care of his maternal grandfather a retired colonel.

A dissolute life

While pursuing his secondary studies at Strasbourg and Nancy, he lost his faith and started to lead a dissolute life, just barely succeeding in competing his military education at Saint-Cyr (1876) and at the cavalry school in Saumur (1878). He received a commission as a second lieutenant but was discharged for disorderly conduct at the garrison of Pont-à-Mousson (1881).

Charles was soon restored to his rank and regiment during a native revolt in the Sahara, and in the ensuing eight-month campaign he mended his ways and distinguished himself in the field as a brave leader.

When he returned to France, he could not adjust to garrison life and resigned his commission. He then decided to return to the Sahara to explore Morocco, and after a year spent in Algiers studying local languages and customs he spent two years in the desert disguised as the Jewish servant of a rabbi (1883-84).

His topographical, ethnological, social and military findings were published as Reconnaissance au Maroc, 1883-1884 (1888), which won him recognition from the Geographical Society of Paris.

Led into the desert

So deeply had the desert solitude and the religiosity of the Muslims impressed Foucauld that in February 1886 he transferred to Paris, near the Church of St. Augustine; it was not long before he met Fr. Henri Huvelin in October of that year. This encounter would change his life for ever.

Fr. Huvelin invited Foucauld to confess and to receive Holy Communion, prompting a complete conversion and nurturing the inspiration to live a life of prayer and asceticism. Charles felt particularly drawn to do God's will and especially to imitate the humility of Jesus, which he understood in a deeper way after his pilgrimage to the Holy Land at the end of 1888.

In 1901 Charles wrote to Henry de Castries: "As soon as I believed that God exists, I understood that I could do nothing less than live for him: my religious vocation was born with my faith. God is so great! Between God and all that is not God there is an immense difference".

Entering the Trappists

In 1890 he joined the Trappists in the Monastery of Notre Dame des Neiges in Nazareth, but soon transferred to a poorer house at Akbès in Syria. where he stayed until 1896.

Longing for still greater poverty and self-sacrifice he transferred to the Abbey of Staoüeli in Algeria. The superior there sent him to Rome to study theology, but he left the Trappists before ordination and returned to Nazareth to live as a hermit in a shack near a monastery of Poor Clares. He chose to live private vows of chastity and absolute poverty.

During the three years he spent in Nazareth, Bro. Charles understood that he was called to be a priest, especially so that he could bring the Eucharist to the poor in the regions when there were no priests.

The 'universal brother'

He was ordained to the priesthood on 9 June 1901 at Viviers, France, and then returned to the Sahara Desert and established a hermitage at Béni-Abbès on the border between Morocco and Algeria. Fr. Charles sought to bring Christianity to the Muslin desert tribes, not by preaching but by good example. By his life of contemplation and charity he wanted to show himself as a man of God and as "the universal brother".

In his hermitage, which he called la Fraternité du Sacré-Coeur de Jésus, he kept the Blessed Sacrament always exposed and spent long hours in adoration.

In 1905 he penetrated deeper into the Sahara and set up his hermitage in the Ahaggar Mountains near Tamanrasset. Respected by the Tuareg tribesmen, Fr. Charles was able to learn a great deal concerning their customs and language.

He lived a life of deep contemplation and action, a solitary life with God and at the same time a life dedicated to the poor and needy. He once wrote: "One does good not in the measure of what one says or does, but in the measure of the grace which accompanies our actions".

Little Brothers, Little Sisters

On 1 December 1916 Charles de Foucauld was assassinated in Tamanrasset by a band of rebels belonging to the fanatical Senusi sect.

He had no disciples during his lifetime. The publication of the Directory, his personal papers and biography, by René Bazin, inspired the founding of the Little Brothers of Jesus in 1933 and the Little Sisters of Jesus in 1936.

More than 40 congregations or movements have since been founded, based on the spirituality of this "universal brother", seeking to live a deep union with Jesus in the Eucharist and with the poor.


Bl. Maria Crocifissa Curcio (1877-1957)
Virgin, Foundress of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus

Maria Crocifissa Curcio was born on 30 January 1877 in Ispica, Sicily, the seventh of 10 children to Salvatore Curcio and Concetta Franzò. She was a lively, intelligent child and was thought by all to have a very pleasant personality.

As a teenager, she channeled her strong will and determination towards God, and she was particularly sensitive to the needs of the weak and marginalized.

A love for Carmel

Maria's father was very strict and did not support his daughters deep yearning for an intense life of faith. According to the customs of the time, he did not permit her to study beyond the sixth Grade.

This was a great trial for the young girl, and so, eager to learn, she read the books in the family library.

Here, she found a copy of the life of St. Teresa of Jesus, which she read with an intensity and devotion that led her to "know and love" Carmel. Maria was beginning her "study of celestial things".

In 1890 she enrolled in the Carmelite Third Order in Ispica and grew in her understanding of Carmelite spirituality. She had a deep devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and felt that God was assigning to her a "special mission" to "make Carmel reflourish".

Contemplative in action

Maria dreamed of a missionary Carmel, uniting the contemplative dimension with a specifically apostolic one.

It was not long before she began an initial experience of community life, joining a few members of the Third Order in a small apartment in her ancestral home, bequeathed to her by her siblings.

She then transferred to Modica, where she was entrusted with the management of the "Carmela Polara" conservatory for the acceptance and assistance of young females who were orphans or needy. She had the firm resolution to turn them into "worthy women who would be useful to themselves and to society".

After several years of trial and hardship in an attempt to see this understanding of hers supported and officially recognized by local ecclesiastic authorities, she finally managed to obtain support for her missionary ideal from Fr. Lorenzo Van Den Eerenbeemt, a Carmelite Father of the Ancient Order.

On 17 May 1925, Maria went to Rome for the canonization of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, and the following day she visited the small town of Santa Marinella, just north of Rome. Struck as much by the natural beauty of this region as by the extreme poverty of a great number of the town's inhabitants, she realized she had reached her "landing place".

In the footsteps of St. Thérèse

On 3 July 1925, after having received oral permission "to experiment" from Cardinal Antonio Vico, Bishop of the Diocese of Porto Santa Rufina, she definitively settled there. On 16 July 1926, she received the Decree of affiliation of her small community with the Carmelite Order.

In 1930, the new Religious Family was established as the Congregation of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

The Congregation continued to grow over the years, and in 1947 the first group of Sisters were sent to Brazil with the mandate to "never forget the poor". Mother Maria continued to dream of increasingly vast horizons towards which missionary Carmel could sail.

Her entire life was marked by poor health and diabetes, which she accepted with courage and a serene adhesion to the will of God. She sought to transmit to her spiritual daughters a filial confidence in God, and desired to have "holy daughters, Eucharistic daughters and daughters who know how to pray".

The 'little way' of holiness

Following the example of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, she strove regularly and faithfully to carry out her duties, doing "with love and dedication even the smallest deeds". She experienced with humility and simplicity, joy and tenderness every human relationship, achieving daily that unity of life and faith "by peacefully combining" the untiring activity of Martha with the profound mysticism of Mary.

Mother Maria died on 4 July 1957, in Santa Marinella, Italy.


Bl. Maria Pia Mastena (1880-1951)
Virgin, Foundress of the Institute of Sisters of the Holy Face

Maria Pia Mastena was born on 7 December 1880 in Bovolone, Italy, near Verona, the first child born to Giulio Mastena, a grocer, and Maria Antonia Casarotti, an elementary school teacher. At her baptism she was christened "Teresa Maria".

She had four brothers and sisters: Giuseppe, who later married and had a family; Maddalena. who became a Third Order Franciscan and a consecrated lay woman; Plinio, who, unable to become a priest for health reasons, obtained a degree in law and dedicated his professional service to defending the poor; and Tarcisio who became a Franciscan Capuchin friar and a missionary in Brazil.

On 19 March 1891, Teresa Maria received her first Holy Communion and on this occasion she made a private vow of chastity. And on 29 August of that year she was confirmed.

Still a child, Teresa Maria felt called to Religious life, and when she was 14 years old she asked for permission to enter the convent. She had to wait, however, until 1901 before she was allowed to begin her postulancy in the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy in Verona.

Sr. Passitea of the Child Jesus

On 29 September 1902 she took the religious habit and on 24 October 1903 she made her profession, receiving the name "Sr. Passitea of the Child Jesus".

She lived her Religious life as a Sister of Mercy with great spiritual intensity and remembered this "first phase" with gratitude as a time of grace and blessedness, greatly assisted and inspired by the fervour she found in the Institute. This led her to offer herself as a "victim" for Jesus and to make a vow to seek the most perfect thing in every situation.

In 1905 Sr. Passitea received teaching certification and two years later she began teaching. In 1908 she was sent to Miane, near Treviso, with three other Religious, as the superior of a new foundation there. She worked here until 1927, carrying out many activities, especially as a teacher, and was held in high esteem by the parish priest, local Authorities and townspeople alike.

During the First World War, she was the "woman of providence" for mothers, couples and the young men who had to go off to the front; she had a word of comfort and hope for everyone she met.

Although engaged in numerous activities, in 1910 Sr. Passitea began to feel the need to enter deeper into a more contemplative life. She believed that God was calling her to do something more, especially "to take the Holy Face to every corner of the world".

Deeper vocational discernment

By 1927, with the spiritual assistance of Bishop Beccegato of Vittorio Veneto, she entered the monastery of San Giacomo di Veglia, and on 2 June of that year she took the Cistercian habit. She was given the name Maria Pia and began her novitiate.

During the first seven months she lived the cloistered life in a truly exemplary way, observing every rule. Sr. Maria Pia showed particular fervour for the Eucharist, the passion of Jesus and especially for his Holy Face, to which she frequently referred.

Soon, however, Maria Pia began to doubt if this life was truly God's will for her. She expressed her doubt to her spiritual director, Bishop Beccegato, who believed that it would be better for her to return to the school in Miane, where she was still the Headmistress.

Sr. Maria Pia soon realized that teaching and a life of enclosure were not compatible and that it would be better for her to leave the monastery. From Miane she transferred to Carpesica and then to San Fior. She still perceived that God was asking something more of her, and it was in San Fior that she started her new Religious Institute.

Sisters of the Holy Face

The primary scope of the new Institute was to "propagate, repair and restore Jesus' gentle image in souls". The Institute of Sisters of the Holy Face, as it was named, opened its first convent in San Fior in 1930; two years later, on 24 October 1932, the first postulants were "clothed".

On 8 December 1936 the Institute was canonically erected as a Congregation of diocesan rite. It was on this occasion that the first 10 Religious made their profession and the Foundress, Mother Maria Pia, made her perpetual profession in the hands of Bishop Beccegato.

From 1936-1951 another 14 houses were opened in Italy. In 1936, Mother Maria Pia was appointed as Superior General of the Institute for a 12-year term. In 1947, the Congregation was approved as an Institute of Pontifical Rite and in 1948, the first General Chapter was held and Mother Maria Pia Mastena was re-elected as Superior General.

The numerous activities and sacrifices that the Foundress had to make weighed on her health and by March 1951 she was gravely ill. Although she lived in San Fior, she made visits to Rome to give a "definitive structure" to the Congregation and to open another house.

On the evening of 28 June 1951, while in Rome, she suffered a heart attack and died. Her mortal remains lie in the chapel of the Convent in San Fior.


20 November 2005

13 Martyrs of the Religious Persecution in Mexico (1920s and 1930s)

In 1917 an anticlerical Constitution was promulgated in Mexico and signed by President Venustiano Carranza, initiating an era of religious persecution. Through the Mexican Bishops, the Church expressed her nonconformity with these laws, which elicited a strong negative reaction from the Government.

The 1920s and 1930s were years marked by fierce religious persecution for the Catholic Church in Mexico. The Mexican Government under the dictatorship of Plutarco Elias Calles (1924-28) was anticlerical, and Calles himself wished to eradicate the Catholic Church from the Country. In 1925 he attempted to establish a national church, to expel all foreign clergy from the Country and to close and confiscate the property of Church-affiliated agencies such as schools, hospitals and charitable institutions. In 1926, 33 new legislative measures designed to suppress the Church, known as the "Calles Law", were enacted. This Law limited the number of priests who could serve in any one locality and the number of religious services they could lead. It closed down seminaries and convents and barred foreign priests from serving in Mexico.

With the knowledge of Pope Pius XI, the Bishops closed the Country's Catholic churches in protest against these new repressive laws. Faithful Catholics mobilized, collecting over 2 million signatures on a petition calling for the Law's repeal. Their efforts were ignored by the Mexican regime and some Catholics who could tolerate no more took up arms.

Some of the laity formed an organization called the "National League for the Defence of Religious Freedom" and, without involving the hierarchy, took up arms in a guerrilla war to defend their religious liberty. Since they had poor munitions and virtually no military experience, their main weapon was the belief that God was with them.

The "Cristero Rebellion", which officially began on New Year's Day 1927 in Jalisco, Mexico, spread rapidly to surrounding areas. Laity sought the support of their pastors, some of whom disagreed with the movements; others, however, provided spiritual support for the people despite the dangers they knew this involved.

The rebellion officially ended 30 months later; however, persecution still continued for some years in other parts of the Country.

During this cruel persecution, numerous priests and lay people gave their lives for the Catholic faith, among them a 14-year-old boy, José Sánchez del Rio, who underwent a cruel martyrdom. All were assassinated by the State Authorities.

The following biographies of 13 of these Martyrs in Mexico give a graphic description of the events involved.

Fr. José Trinidad Rangel Montaño was born on 4 June 1887 in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico. As a priest, he was known for his humility, simplicity and zeal for the salvation of souls.

In 1927, Fr. Rangel was obliged to leave his parish church at Silao due to the fact that he had not enrolled as a priest in the government register for priests; he went to León, where he sought refuge in the home of Josefina and Jovita Alba and where he met Fr. Andrés Solá y Molist, a Claretian missionary who was also in hiding since 1926.

In April 1927, Fr. Rangel's brother Agustín encouraged him to seek refuge in the United States; instead, Fr. Rangel accepted the invitation of the ecclesiastical superior of the Diocese to secretly celebrate Holy Week with the Minims in San Francisco del Rincón. Here he administered the sacraments, especially to those sick in the hospital.

On 22 April Fr. Rangel was discovered and arrested. He never denied the fact that he was a priest, and after interrogation and torture, he was shot on 24 April 1927 in Rancho de San Joaquín, together with Fr. Andrés Solá y Molist and Mr. Leonardo Pérez Larios.

Fr. Andrés Solá y Molist, C.M.F., was born on 7 October 1895 in Can Vilarrasa, Spain. In September 1922 he was ordained, and in 1923 he was sent to Mexico as a Claretian missionary priest.

The anti-Catholic and anticlerical laws that were passed at the time forced Fr. Solá y Molist into hiding he went to live in the home of Josefina and Jovita Alba in León so that he would not be obliged to leave the Country. He continued to administer Holy Communion to the sick and to hear confessions and celebrate many baptisms and marriages, all at the risk of his very life.

By 1927 the persecution had worsened and his local superior, Fr. Fernando Santesteban, directed him to leave Leon and to go to Mexico City. He remained there for some days, and then with the permission of the Provincial Superior he returned to León to continue his ministry.

On 23 April, he received a letter from the superior of the community informing him that there was a warrant for his arrest and that he should suspend his activity, go into hiding or change residence. Fr. Solá gave no importance to the letter, believing that nothing would happen. Instead, the next day he was arrested.

When soldiers entered the home of the Alba sisters to take him away, he confirmed that he was a priest. He was led away to his martyrdom and shot on 25 April 1927.

Leonardo Pérez Larios was born on 28 November 1883 in Lagos di Moreno, Jalisco, Mexico. He never married and although he desired to become a priest, he was unable to do so because of his responsibility to care for his two sisters and maintain the family.

A deeply religious man, Leonardo belonged to a Marian group whose members made a vow of chastity and met each week for Eucharistic adoration.

Leonardo was also arrested in the home of the Alba sisters, after having participated in Holy Mass and a Holy Hour organized by Fr. Solá. When soldiers entered the home and discovered Fr. Solá, they mistook Leonardo for a priest because he was dressed in black and was very devout. He declared that he was not a priest, but that he was Roman Catholic.

Leonardo was taken away to be martyred in Rancho de San Joaquín on 25 April 1927, together with Fr. Rangel and Fr. Solá y Molist.

Anacleto González Flores was born on 13 July 1888 in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, Mexico. He was greatly involved in social and religious activities and was an enthusiastic member of the Catholic Association of Young Mexicans (ACJM). He taught classes in catechism, was dedicated to works of charity and wrote articles and books with a Christian spirit.

In 1922 he married Maria Concepción Guerrero and they had two children.

By 1926, the situation in Mexico had worsened and Anacleto, who up until this time had advocated passive, non-violent resistance, joined the cause of the National League for the Defence of Religious Freedom upon learning of the murder of four members of the ACJM.

In January 1927 guerrilla warfare spread throughout Jalisco and from his many hiding places Anacleto wrote and sent bulletins and studied major strategies.

The young man was captured on the morning of 1 April 1927 in the home of the Vargas González family, along with the two Vargas brothers. He was taken to the Colorado jail, where his torture included being hung by his thumbs until his fingers were dislocated and having the bottom of his feet slashed. He refused, however, to supply his captors with any information.

José Anacleto González Flores was condemned to death and was shot together with the Vargas González brothers and Luis Padilla Gómez on that same day, 1 April 1927.

José Dionisio Luis Padilla Gómez was born on 9 December 1899 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. He was an active member of the ACJM and worked closely with Anacleto in the activities of the League, helping in a special way poor children and youth. The young man, known to all as Luis, spent much time praying before the Blessed Sacrament and had a deep devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

On the morning of 1 April 1927, Luis was arrested in his home, together with his mother and one of his sisters. He was repeatedly beaten and insulted, then sentenced to execution.

After arriving at the Colorado jail, Luis met Anacleto and the others. He told Anacleto that he wanted to go to confession. But Anacleto told the young man, "No, brother, now is not the hour to confess, but to request pardon and to pardon our enemies. God is a Father and not a judge, the One who gives you hope. Your own blood will purify you".

Luis knelt down in prayer as the executioners' bullets riddled his prostrate body.

Jorge and Ramón Vargas González were born in Ahualulco de Mercado, Jalisco, Mexico. Jorge Ramón was born on 28 September 1899 and Ramón Vicente was born on 22 January 1905.

Jorge worked for a hydroelectric company and Ra­món pursued the study of medicine. They were both active members of the ACJM.

After a long day of work, Jorge would dress in over­alls and ride his bicycle, accompanying Fr. Lino Aguirre on the rounds of his hidden sacramental ministry to help ensure his safety.

Ramón was always concerned for the health of the poor and helped them without seeking anything in return. He was known for his joyful spirit and his strong Catholic identity.

During the persecution, the Vargas González family gave refuge to a number of priests and seminarians. Anacleto González Flores was staying with them in March of 1927.

On the morning of 1 April 1927 the secret police completely surrounded the family home, shouting: "Open the door in the name of the law!". They stormed in and arrested everyone, including the two brothers, their mother and a younger brother, Florentino.

The Vargas González family was accused of having hidden a "wanted" priest in their home and were taken to the Colorado jail.

As they were being led down the street, Ramón was able to escape unnoticed; but a little while later he turned back and rejoined the rest. When asked why he had not fled, Ramón replied: "I told myself, my mother and my brothers are prisoners; am I to run away?".

In jail, Florentino was separated from his two brothers, who were put in a cell next to Luis Padilla Gómez and Anacleto González Flores. They knew they were going to be executed. But before being killed they were interrogated and tortured, remaining silent throughout.

Taken out to be shot, the four recited the Act of Contrition. Before the bullets were fired, Ramón made the sign of the cross and Jorge held a crucifix against his chest.

When the father of the two boys learned how his sons were killed, he said: "Now I know, it is not condolences that I need, but congratulations; I have the fortune to have two sons who are martyrs".

José Luciano Ezequiel Huerta Gutiérrez was born on 6 January 1876 in Magdalena, Jalisco, Mexico. He was an organist with a great gift for music and had a beautiful tenor voice that could have given him a career as an opera singer; but he said that his voice was dedicated to the service of God.

Ezequiel married in 1904 and had 10 children. He was very devoted to the Blessed Sacrament and even with such a large family, always found the resources to give to the needy.

On the morning of 2 April 1927 he was arrested; he had just paid his respects to the lifeless body of Anacleto González Flores. He was questioned about the whereabouts of his two priest brothers, about his two oldest sons and the Cristeros. consciousness, he expressed his pain by signing with all his might: "My Christ lives, my King li

Ezequiel refused to talk, so he was tortured until he was unconscious. When he regainedves". For this, he received more beatings until he could not utter a single sound.

The following morning, he was led at dawn with his brother Salvador Huerta Gutiérrez to the cemetery of Mezquitán, where they were both killed.

Ezequiel's wife heard the shots from her home and although she did not know that her husband was one of the victims, she gathered her children around her and said: "My children, let us recite the Rosary for these poor people who have just been shot".

Salvador Huerta Gutiérrez was born on 18 March 1880 in Magdalena, Jalisco, Mexico. He worked as a mechanic, and in 1907 he married and had 12 children.

Daily Mass was a priority for him; he was likewise very dedicated to prayer and to his family, and famous in Guadalajara for his expertise as a mechanic.

On 2 April 1927, following the assassination of Alacleto, Salvador went to pay his respects to this beloved "leader". When he returned to his garage, police officers were waiting for him.

They ordered him to come to police headquarters, allegedly to fix the chief's car; he was thus led away and cruelly tortured, even hung by his thumbs. When interrogated about the Cristeros and the whereabouts of Eduardo and José, his two priests-brothers, he said nothing.

Salvador was thrown into jail with his brother Ezequiel, and the next day they were led to their execution. When they arrived at the cemetery, Salvador asked for a lighted candle and held it in front of his chest. He cried out: "Long live Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe! Shoot me so that I will die for God, because I love him".

Miguel Gómez Loza was born on 11 August 1888 in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, Mexico. From a young age he had a strong love for God and a great devotion to the Blessed Mother.

When he was 26 Miguel entered the University of Morelos where he earned a law degree, and eventually opened an office in Arandas as an attorney.

In 1915 he became a member of the ACJM, and in 1919 he established a national congress of Catholic workers to unify industry workers, commercial employees and agricultural labourers. He also worked tirelessly to defend the rights of the needy, which caused him to be arrested 59 times for organizing protests against the Government.

In 1922 Miguel married Maria Guadalupe Sánchez Barragán and they had three children.

Miguel joined the "National League for the Defence of Religious Freedom" in 1927, but believed in non-violence in order to resist the persecution. After the death of Anacleto, he was appointed by Catholics as Governor of Jalisco and strove by all the means at his disposal to defend liberty and justice.

By March of 1928, Miguel was living on a ranch near Atotonilco. On 21 March, federal forces who had been hunting for him discovered his whereabouts; he was executed by firing squad the same day.

Luis Magaña Servin was born on 24 August 1902 in Arandas, Jalisco, Mexico. Growing up, he helped his father work in a tannery.

As a young man, Luis became a member of the ACJM. He deeply loved the Church and was interested in social questions, leading him to study Leo XIII's watershed Encyclical Rerum Novarum. He also joined the "Our Lady of Guadalupe Association", a group that united worker artisans.

Luis always treated poor and rich the same, practicing the advice of Bishop Mora y del Rio of Mexl City, to "treat your workers with love and they v never leave you".

In 1926 he married Elvira Camarena Méndez and they had two children, the second born after the death of Luis.

By January 1927 Arandas had become one of the strongholds of the government resistance. Priests went into hiding, exercising a secret ministry and travelling in disguise. Luis remained a pacifist and did not to part in the Cristeros activity; rather, he helped spiritually and materially as did most Catholics in the area.

On 9 February 1928, a group of soldiers arrested Catholics that supported active resistance against the Government. Luis was not at home when officers arrived at his door, so they arrested his younger brother instead.

When Luis learned that his brother had been take away, he reported to the general and asked that he take the place of his brother.

"I have never been a Cristero rebel", he said, "but if you accuse me of being a Christian, then yes, that I am. Soldiers who are going to shoot me, I want to tell you that from this moment I pardon you, and I promise that on arriving in the presence of God you are the first ones for whom I will intercede.Long live Christ the King and Our Lady of Guadalupe!".

Luis Magaña Servin was shot at 3 p.m. on 9 February 1928.

José Sánchez del Rio was born on 28 March 1913 Sahuayo, Michoacán, Mexico. Wanting to defend the faith and rights of Catholics, he followed in the footsteps of his two older brothers and asked his mother for permission to join the Cristeros. She objected telling him that he was too young. "Mama", he replied, "do not let me lose the opportunity to gain Heaven so easily and so soon".

On 5 February 1928 the young boy was captured during a battle and imprisoned in the church sacristy. In order to terrorize him, soldiers made him watch hanging of one of the other captured Cristeros. But José encouraged the man, saying, "You will be Heaven before me. Prepare a place for me. Tell Christ the King I shall be with him soon".

In prison, he prayed the Rosary and sang songs faith. He wrote a beautiful letter to his mother telling her that he was resigned to do God's will. José's father attempted to ransom his son, but was unable raise the money in time.

On 10 February 1928 the teenager was brutally tortured and the skin of the soles of his feet was sheered off; he was then forced to walk on salt, followed walking through the town to the cemetery. The young boy screamed with pain but would not give in.

At times the soldiers stopped him and said, "If you shout, 'Death to Christ the King', we will spare your life". But he answered: "Long live Christ the King, Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!".

Once he arrived at the cemetery, José was asked once more if he would deny his faith. The 14 year old shouted out: "Long live Christ the King!", and was summarily shot.

Fr. Ángel Darío Acosta Zurita was born on 13 December 1908 in Naolinco, Mexico. He was known for his athleticism and his gentle charitable nature.

Ángel Darío was ordained a priest on 25 April 1931 and celebrated his First Mass in the city of Vera Cruz on 24 May. On 26 May he began to serve as a coadjutor vicar in the Parish of the Assumption in Vera Cruz. He was very interested in children's catechesis and was dedicated to celebrating the Sacrament of Penance.

In the State of Vera Cruz a decree was promulgated known as that "Tejeda Law", which reduced the number of priests allowed in the State to end the "fanaticism of the people", as Governor Adalberto Tejeda called it. A letter was sent to all priests telling them to obey this law. Fr. Dario received his letter on 21 July, remaining calm and joyful as always.

On 25 July 1931 the law took force; that same day, in the Parish of the Assumption, everything transpired as usual: children arrived for catechism lessons and people waited to go to confession.

At 6:10 p.m., soldiers entered the church and opened fire on the priests. In the confusion and chaos, Fr. Landa was gravely wounded while another priest, Fr. Rosas, was miraculously saved, protected by the pulpit.

Fr. Darío had just come out of the baptistry when he was hit by the bullets, having only the time to cry out "Jesus!". He was martyred exactly three months after his priestly ordination.


Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
Various dates, 2005

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