Today we celebrate the Memorial of the Spanish Redemptorist Martyrs of Cuenca – Blessed José Javier Gorosterratzu Jaurena, priest, and companions, martyrs. Below is a brief summary of each of the martyrs.
The violent religious persecution unleashed in Spain attacked Catholicism and led to the destruction and desecration of churches and convents which began prior to the civil war and became severe from 1936 to 1939. During these years, religious persecution became increasingly bloody, reaching its peak with the assassination of bishops, priests, religious and laity who were viciously massacred.
It was in this dramatic period that many people of Cuenca (including six Redemptorists from the religious community of San Felipe) were martyred:
Father José Javier Gorosterratzu Jaunarena (1877-1936), who was arrested on August 10, 1936, was shot in the city cemetery while forgiving his murderers;
Father Ciriaco Olarte Pérez (1893-1936), who was a missionary to Mexico and escaped the persecution there, was arrested in Spain on July 31, 1936 and was shot next to the chapel of “Our Lady of Sorrows” where he was left to bleed to death;
Father Julian Pozo Ruiz de Samaniego (1920-1936), who ministered the sacrament of reconciliation and cared for the sick, was arrested on August 9, 1936 and was executed while saying his rosary;
Father Miguel Goñi Ariz (1902-1936), who was a tireless preacher of parish missions, was arrested and shot with Father Olarte Pérez. They were left to die after long hours of agony;
Brother Victor (Victoriano) Calvo Lozano (1896-1936), a lay brother with a heroic spirit of service, was arrested and shot with Father Gorosterratzu at the city cemetery;
Father Pedro Romero Espejo (1871-1938) did not want to endanger the family with whom he had taken refuge under the persecution, so he left the house and lived on the streets while being dedicated to others and exercising his priestly ministry until June 1938 when he was imprisoned and died of dysentery on July 4, 1938.
They were beatified in Tarragona on October 13, 2013 among the 522 martyrs of the twentieth century in Spain.
God our Father, with the help of the Mother of God
you gave Blessed José Javier and companions
the strength to give their lives in the imitation of Christ
by shedding their blood.
Help us by their example and intercession
to profess the same faith by word and deed.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord.