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Meeting in Madrid, 30th April – 4th May 2008

25/06/2008: Spain

Every year the postulation team holds a meeting of all its members. This year our meeting took place in Madrid, in our house of Xaudarò, from 30th April to 4th May. There were Br. Mariano Santamaria, for the causes of our Spanish martyrs, Br. Alain Delorme, vice-postulator for the cause of Br. Henri Vergès; the two brothers of Mexico, José Flores Garcia and Jorge Flores Aceves, who follow the cause of Br. Basilio, and Br. Giovanni Maria Bigotto, postulator general.

We examined the work done up to now: the cause for Br. Basilio, that is now going through the stage of the theologians in charge of reading his scripts. The Tribunal for the cause of Br. Henri Vergès opened in Algiers, summoning the witnesses who knew him. Br. Alain Delorme is about to write a new book on Fr. Henri Vergès: “Praying 15 days with Henri Vergès”. His book calls us into the intimacy of the martyr and helps us pray with him. We would like to translate the book into Spanish, English and Portuguese.

Br. Mariano concluded the drafting of the positio concerning the group of martyrs of Br. Eusebio and other 58 brothers. He also guaranteed the regular publishing of Testigo, the magazine that collects the witnesses and presents the biographies of the martyrs. The beatifications on 28th October 2007 were an important event for him, allowing him to be present in many of the villages and cities where the new Blesseds were born, taking part in some celebrations, sometimes directing them, always informing the faithful about the martyrdom of these brothers.

In our meeting we devoted a lot of time to the pilgrimages we make to the places where the brothers were killed and where they are buried. In Barruelo, where Br. Bernardo was murdered, the people welcomed us with friendliness, and we were glad to repeat that Bernardo was their saint, that his body lies in their parish church. We met some of his former pupils, and above all we were glad of the witness of Br. Pedro Sanjosé: He was born in Barruelo in 1935; when he was 7 years old he celebrated his first communion in the church where we stand. Later his Marist vocation led him to Chile and Argentina for his apostolic life. He returned to Spain for health problems and joined the community of Lardero. Before us he read the forward to Platero y Yo, with the definition of the educator.

The pilgrimage to Torrelaguna, the homeland of Cardinal Cisneros, was really a special event. In this village, about 40 km from Madrid, Br. Crisanto was born, who died a martyr at Les Avellanes. The three brothers who formed the community in 1936 were also killed. Their mortal spoils are kept in a beautiful white marble urn in a side chapel of the large parish church. There we held a celebration presided over by the Vicar general of the diocese. There were about a hundred people. Many people told us what a powerful impact the education given by the brothers had on the people there. The reverence the people show the brothers today is obvious, it can be seen in their praises, in their friendliness and in the warm welcome we were given.

Toledo was the last location of our pilgrimages. In this city the 11 brothers who used to live here in 1936 were shot dead. The entire community there gave us a witness of faithfulness to the Lord to the point of shedding their blood. The mortal spoils of the brothers lie in a beautiful marble coffin in the parish church of Santa Theresa, close to our college. Our brothers of Toledo gave us a generous welcome, they prayed with us, and together with us they deposed a bunch of red flowers on the white coffin and shared the afternoon meal.

These moments of contact with our martyrs allowed us to observe how much their martyrdom is renown among simple people, the Christians of these parishes, who pray to them, who admire them and are proud to keep in their churches the mortal remains of these Marist educators. Through their death and their presence in the parish churches, they still bear witness today to the primacy of the Lord Jesus. The people feel they are their martyrs, their saints, their pride.

For us postulators, these were really comforting moments. While sometimes we may be tempted by the tendency to forget or trivialise the witness of our own martyrs, simple Christians keep alive the flame of veneration, trust, invocation and prayer. This faith of the people of God is a balsam for the heart of our faith.

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