MARTYR (MARCH 11, 2001)
MARTYRS FOR CHRIST
Between 1936 and 1939 Spain erupted into a bloody and dramatic civil war: It was a conflict which ignited ideological enmities, resulting in a battle between democracy and fascism, between republicans and rebels led by General Franco. The Spanish Church also paid the price, subjected as it was to anarchic militias, and violent persecution.
Thousands of priests, religious men and women and lay people were massacred, simply because they were Christians. Amongst these were many members of the Salesian Family: 39 priests, 22 clerics, 24 Brothers, two Salesian Sisters, four Salesian Cooperators, three Salesian Aspirants and one lay Co-Worker; 95 in all. Three separate causes were introduced, finally reduced to two:
The group from Valencia – 32 martyrs – with Fr. Giuseppe Calasanz at the head of them. The two groups from Seville and Madrid – 63 martyrs –with Fr. Enrico Saiz Aparicio at the head of them. The first group was beatified on March 11, 2001 together with the other martyrs from the diocese of Valencia; while the second Cause has reached the stage of the “Positio”.
Fr. Giuseppe Calasanz (1872-1936) was born in Azanuy. In 1886 in Sarrià he saw Don Bosco by this time tired and suffering. He became a Salesian in 1890, and a priest five years later. He was secretary to Don Rinaldi and following that superior of the Province of Perù-Bolivia. After returning to Spain he became Provincial of Terraconense (Barcelona – Valencia). He was a man of great heart and a hard worker, interested in the salvation of his confreres from the outset. He was captured together with other Salesians while he was running a Retreat in Valencia. He was killed while being taken away, with a single shot to the head.