Spanish Civil War Martyrs Beatified

News: Investigations
by Christine Niles  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 25, 2016   

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BURGOS, Spain (ChurchMilitant.com) - Five martyrs of the Spanish Civil War have been beatified. In a ceremony Saturday at the Cathedral of Santa Maria Burgos, Fr. Valentín Palencia Marquina and his four companions, who were gunned down for the Faith, were declared blessed.

Born in 1871, Marquina was ordained a priest in 1898. He ran a children's shelter and soup kitchen at the church of San Esteban in Burgos, and received the Cross of Charity from the Spanish government in 1925 for his charitable work.

During the Spanish Civil War, a time of intense persecution of the Church, Fr. Marquina was banned from offering Mass. He then conducted an underground ministry to Catholics by secretly bringing them the sacraments. He was helped in his ministry by four laymen: Donato Rodríguez García, Emilio Huidobro Corrales, Zacharias Cuesta and Germán García García Campo.

All five were gunned down January 15, 1937 on Mount Tramalón in Ruiloba for their faith.

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"Execution" of the Sacred Heart by Republican firing squad

The marginalization of the Catholic Church began in 1931 with the establishment of the anti-clerical Second Republic, which controlled and directed use of Church property and prohibited religious orders from participating in education. Pope Pius IX condemned the Spanish government's actions against Catholics in his 1933 encyclical "Dilectissima Nobis" ("On Oppression Of The Church Of Spain").

The persecution of Catholics intensified just before and during the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, a time that some call the "Red Terror." Among the tens of thousands killed (estimates range from 38,000 to 72,000), there were 6,832 Catholic priests murdered for their faith. Churches and monasteries were also desecrated and plundered.

An investigation into the martyrdoms of Catholics in the Spanish Civil War was first opened on September 30, 1996, and the single largest number of beatifications in the Church's history took place in 2007, when 498 victims of the Spanish Civil War were declared blessed.

Nineteen years to the day after the investigations were opened, Pope Francis signed a decree approving Fr. Marquina's martyrdom on September 30, 2015. As of today, approximately 1,000 victims of the Spanish Civil War have been beatified or canonized, with an additional 2,000 still in the process toward sainthood.

 

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