More than 500 martyrs of the bloody Spanish Civil War (1936-39) were beatified in Tarragona, Spain, on October 13, 2013. Among them the six Redemptorist martyrs of Cuenca: Fathers Javier Gorosterratzu Jaunarena, Ciriaco Olarte Pérez de Mendiguren, Miguel Goñi Áriz, Julián Pozo Ruiz de Samaniego, and Pedro Romero Espejo, as well as Brother Victoriano Calvo Lozano. (1)
(A) José Javier Gorosterrazu Jaunarena, (1877-1936), 59 year old professed priest. As a researcher and missionary in Spanish (Castilian) and Basque, he brought together in his life the proclamation of the Gospel with philosophical scholarship and historical research. He had a great sensitivity for the local culture of the people whom he evangelized. He preached many retreats and spiritual exercise to nuns, especially the Redemptoristines. He died together with Brother Lozano. Both were attached to each other by the arm. (2)
(B) Ciriaco Olarte Pérez de Mendiguren, (1893-1936), 43 year old professed priest. He was a missionary first in Mexico, and then in Spain. A friendly and outgoing person, he won people over by his character. The persecution of Plutarco Calles had made it necessary for him to leave Mexico. He preached many retreats to the Oblate Sisters and the girls whom they gathered together. On July 31, 1936, he was arrested, taken to the place called “Las Angustias” (Sorrows), severely wounded, and left to die. He died together with Miguel Goñi Ariz. They gave each other absolution. (2)
(C) Miguel Goñi Áriz, (1902-1936), 34 year old professed priest. Despite his delicate health and his rather timid character, he was a tireless preacher of popular missions and an admirable confessor. He was an intelligent and valuable man both for preaching and for worship services in the Church. He was always available to do whatever was necessary. He was ordained a priest on September 27, 1925. He was arrested by the militia, shot, and left to bleed to death on August 31, 1936. (2)
(D) Julián Pozo Ruiz de Samaniego, (1903-1936), 33year old professed priest. He was an extremely good man who captivated everyone with his smile. Since before his ordination, he was sick with tuberculosis. But his human qualities and his spiritual depth matured through this illness. His heart, his eyes, and especially his smile even in illness, spoke of God. On August 9, 1936, he was arrested while praying the rosary. He was shot and killed along the road from Cuenca to Tragacete. (2)
(E) Pedro Romero Espejo, (1871-1938), 65 year old priest. He was a missionary for many years, but little by little, he had to leave this work behind because of personal difficulties. He had to take his limitations seriously, and because of this, he came to live the life of a monk in Cuenca. When the persecution came, in order to continue to freely live his fidelity to the missionary life, he lived as a beggar in the streets of Cuenca. Thus, in the midst of the persecution, he was able to offer pastoral care to those who asked. In May 1938 he was arrested and imprisoned, dying of dysentery in prison on May 29. (2)
(F) Victoriano Calvo Lozano, (1896-1936), 40 year old professed religious Brother. He is the second Redemptorist brother to reach the altars. A person with a very simple training, he possessed great wisdom and knowledge in the ways of God. He was dedicated to simple tasks such as porter, sacristan, tailor or the orchard, and he spent much time in silence and prayer. He was also dedicated to spiritual direction. On August 10, 1936, he was arrested and shot in the Cuenca cemetery along with Father Gorosterratzu. (2)
Main Ref: (1) Redemtorists of Baltimore Province; (2) Redemptorist Scala News; Other Ref: (3) Redemptorists,CA; (4) Redemptoristine Sisters, Dublin, Ireland.
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