Wednesday, October 10, 2007

500 Spanish martyrs to be beatified

On Sunday, 28 October. in St Peter's Square in Rome, there will be the largest number of beatification in Church history, among them almost 500 martyrs of religious persecution in Spain in the 1930s. Fr Juan Antonio Martínez Camino, spokesman of the Spanish Bishops' Conference said during an conference on 5 October in Rome at the Pontifical Agustinianum Institute called: "The century of martyrs and religious persecution in Spain (1934-1939)", this beatification "will be an extraordinary event and a reminder that the testimony of martyrs is a great sign of hope".

Fr Martínez Camino said the Celebration will be exceptional for three reasons: the number of the Blessed "never have so many servants of God been beatified together: this is the most numerous beatification in Church history"; the organisation: this is the first experience of networking among the various postulators, and with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; from the pastoral point of view because "practically all the dioceses in Spain, because of the place of birth, apostolic life, or martyrdom of the new Blessed, are the main actors of this great celebration of faith and holiness". Although it is the most numerous beatification in history every case has been given careful individual attention.

With these new Blessed a total 977 Spanish martyrs have been recognised by the Church, and 11 of them are already Saints. "Many more cases could be proposed" said the spokesman of the Spanish Bishops' Conference, because in Spain at that time about 10,000 people were martyred. Processes of beatification have already been started for about 2,000.

Fr Camino said nearly every Spanish Bishop will be present for the occasion. "They all, with their respective diocesan Churches, feel involved in the event" and "they thank the Holy Father for allowing this beatification to take place in Rome". The celebration will "strengthen the faith of Spanish Catholics at this time of great difficulty and enable them to be builders of justice and reconciliation in the light of the testimony of our martyrs, witness of faith and forgiveness". Among those present at the academic act,

Andrea Riccardi, founder of the S. Egidio Community and Vicente Cárcel Ortí, scholar in History of the Church in Spain, who said that religious persecution in that epoch "was the most widely known in the history of Spain and perhaps in the history of the whole Church". He also recalled that "Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical Dilectissima nobis 3 June 1933, denounced to the world the situation of authentic religious persecution being experienced by the Church in Spain ".

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