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Decree on the martyrdom of Brother Laurentino, Virgilio and forty-four other brothers

19/12/2006: Vatican

Today, the 18th December 2006, towards the end of the afternoon, the Vatican’s Information Service brought us the news that the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, had permitted the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the causes of the Saints, His Eminence José Saraiva Martins, to promulgate a certain number of decrees on miracles and on martyrdom. We had the joy of reading that one of these decrees concerns our Brother Laurentino, Virgilio and forty-four other brothers killed during the night of the 8th October 1936 as men of God.

We already had received the news of the cause of Brother Bernardo which had received its decree on the martyrdom on the 22nd June 2004, under Pope John Paul II.

Thus, now our two causes, that of Brother Bernardo and that of Brother Laurentino, Virgilio and forty-four others, have received the decree on the martyrdom. We only now have to wait for the date of the beatification. This could be in May but more probably in autumn of 2007. In effect, there still remains one cause, of twenty-three groups to be studied by the Cardinals and Bishops. That will be in January or February 2007.

What is the meaning of the decree on the martyrdom? This decree, signed by the Pope, says that the Church officially recognises that our brothers are martyrs, witnesses to Christ to the point of shedding their blood, models of a Christian life and of love in the people of God, pathways towards the Lord and also friends in heaven capable of interceding for us. We can tranquilly offer our prayers to heaven; they are our brothers, faithful until death, capable of a total gift in a very hard context of true persecution.

This decree puts an end to the long pathway to beatification. The cause of Brother Laurentino, Provincial, and of his group started in the diocese of Barcelona in 1963. The diocesan process was recognised as valid in Rome in 1990. Brother Gabriele Andreucci wrote the positio and on the 25th January 2005, all recognised that our brothers were martyrs. The Cardinals and the Bishops took up this same study to come to the same conclusions as the theologians on the 20th June 2006. Today, 18th December 2006, with the decree on the martyrdom, we have reached the final point before the beatification.

Even though we do not have a precise date at the moment, or place for the beatification, which everyone would prefer to be Rome, we can start to open our heart and our prayers more to these brothers. Since 1931, they knew they were heading towards martyrdom. In 1933, Brother Laurentino, Provincial, wrote a letter to his brothers that said clearly and strongly that the time had come to show that they truly loved God, not in word, but by the gift of their lives. We should stress that this Brother Laurentino, Provincial, before being killed himself with forty-five of his brothers, had seen in the days that preceded this more than one hundred of his brothers killed. In the Province that was called Spain, all the men who counted were killed: the Provincial, the Vice Provincial, Brother Eusebio, Visitor, the Master of Novices, the Director of the Scholasticate and nearly all the directors of schools and colleges.

If we fix our eyes now on our one hundred and seventy-three martyrs of Spain, our fraternal love has the right to celebrate with pride all our martyred brothers of Oceania, China and Africa. Truly we are not lacking in martyrs or in saints and certainly they stimulate our generosity and our audacity, this audacity which we note in the current reality of Mission ad gentes.

Let us be men who know how to say thank you to God since he always has done marvels among us,. a gratitude that is also addressed to the Mother of the Lord, she who has done everything for us, to our Founder, Marcellin and to all the brothers who have preceded us in service, love and in heaven.

Brother Giovanni Maria Bigotto

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