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47 Marist Brothers form part of the most numerous beatifications in history

 

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The Beatification ceremony in Saint Peter’s Square

02/11/2007: General House

The largest beatification ceremony in history, that of 498 martyrs of the XX century in Spain, took place in the Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Square on October 28 2007 with all solemnity. Of these martyrs, 47 were Marist Brothers. From early morning the faithful began to head towards Saint Peter’s Square. Among them a large group of Marist pilgrims who had come from many parts, especially Spain. At 9.15, hymns were sung and testimonies of the martyrs were read out as preparation for the celebration. Among them, the exhortation of Brother Laurentino to his Brothers months before his death: Now is the time to show the fidelity you have sworn to the Lord”. This text can be read on our site.
These testimonies drew great applause from those present. The Eucharist was presided over by the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Holy Causes, José Saraiva Martins as the Pope’s delegate. He was accompanied at the altar by the Spanish bishops who were present in Rome and the General Superiors of the orders and religious congregations. Brother Seán and Brother Luis Sobrado occupied a special place next to the authorities.

The beatification rite was introduced by the archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela whose archdiocese contains the greatest number of the martyrs. He approached the altar accompanied by the bishops of the dioceses involved in the 23 Causes, and by the postulators, including Brother Giovanni Bigotto, to request of Pope Benedict XVI the inscription of the martyrs in the catalogue of the beatified.

Next the bishops listed the causes of their respective dioceses following in order of the date of introduction: Barcelona (Brothers Laurentino, Virgilio and 44 companions), Burgos (Brother Bernardo), Toledo, Cuenca, Ciudad Real, Merida-Badajoz, Madrid, Oviedo, Jaén, Santander, Cartagena and Gerona. The archbishop of Madrid concluded the beatification request on behalf of all the bishops. Cardinal Saraiva then read out the Pope’s Apostolic Letter which authorizes the worship of these servants of God as beatified persons, whose feast day is included in the calendar on November 6. The assembly applauded with great enthusiasm as the official logo of the beatification was revealed. The beatification rite concluded with some words of thanks by Cardinal Rouco. The celebration of the Eucharist then followed, ending with the official hymn Seeds of Peace”, led by the Choir of the Cathedral of Almudena, Madrid.
Present at the beatification were 71 Spanish bishops, a thousand diocesan priests and religious and more than two thousand five hundred relatives of the martyrs and about forty thousand of the faithful. For the Marists there were one hundred close family members, together with three hundred Brothers and a thousand pilgrims.

The ceremony could be seen live on the Internet through Vatican Television and on the web page of the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

The reception for the Marist Brothers in the General House

On the Sunday evening the Brothers who attended the beatification celebration, around 300 of them, were welcomed to the General House. They began with a prayer session in the main chapel, around a great cross erected before the altar, behind which could be read the sentence: We forgive as Jesus forgave. The names of the new beatified, with the symbol of their Christian identity, surrounded the paschal candle illuminated by a lamp, symbol of the faith.

Brother Seán highlighted the fidelity of the martyrs, simple men who lived a life similar to that of anyone present, but who knew how to respond until the final consequences. He congratulated everyone for this family event and expressed his gratitude to those who had worked directly on the process of the causes.

Brother Luis Sobrado García, Vicar General, invited Brothers Lucio Zudaire, Toni Torrelles, Timoteo Pérez, Jesus Martínez, Gregorio Steel and José Luis Melgosa, to approach the altar. They were related in some way to the Brothers Martyrs, and they are living testimony that the blood of the Marist martyrs is the seed for new vocations.

The prayer session ended with the hymn Sub Tuum Praesidium and the presentation of a memento of the event to each Brother. Then there was an invitation to a fraternal meal. It was a joyful meeting.

Mass of thanksgiving in Saint Peters

On Monday, October 29, at 10.00 am, a mass of thanksgiving took place in the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, presided over by Cardinal Bertone, Secretary of State. Concelebrating were the Spanish bishops who were present in Rome and the archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, expressed his gratitude to the Pope and to all those present.

An exhibition about the Brothers Martyrs

The General House was visited by numerous people during the four days of the beatification celebrations. Here it was possible to see the transformation made in the “Champagnat Room, where some original documents of Saint Marcellin were exhibited, such as his passport, some of his letters and a cope used by him. Also on the itinerary was the chapel of the General Council, the Council Room and the corridor of the Superiors where many mementoes and symbols of the Brothers Martyrs had been placed under the motto Takes up your cross and follow me. Throughout our Marist history 37.586 people have responded to this invitation of Our Lord and have been professed in the congregation. The whole corridor was filled with evocations of the life of the newly beatified and the circumstances in which their educational apostolate developed. The tour concluded in the main chapel, with a moment of contemplation and acts of thanksgiving.
Particularly moving was the visit of a group of Brothers who met the martyrs personally, as well as the visit of their relatives.

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