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Marist Bulletin - Number 315

 

Beatification of the 47 Brothers martyred in Spain
02/11/2007

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The preparations in Rome, in the General House
The pilgrims have begun to arrive. The most punctual were those coming from far away: Malaysia, Brazil, Argentina, USA, etc. The distances and the difficulties involved in travel needed great preparation in advance. Then the large group from Spain will arrive. It is though that there will be about a thousand people, counting the Brothers, family, co-workers and friends.
The pilgrims who visit the General House will see some new things as part of the event. In the first place, the facade of the house shows the Marist logo of the beatification surrounded by the faces of the 47 Marist Brothers martyred in Spain, on a massive panel that proclaims to the whole world the sanctity of the newly beatified. In the vestibule of the house, the statue of Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth welcomes the visitors beside Brothers Bernardo, Laurentino and Virgilio who are at the top of the lists of the causes for beatification. The main stairway giving access to the Council area has the swords of Brother Diógenes who was Superior General when the newly beatified were martyred. They express the feelings that overwhelmed him at that time. The chapel of the superiors is a Marist reliquary where the altar used by Marcellin is preserved, as well as the original portrait made of him by Ravery a few hours after his death, the statue of our Good Mother and a finger of the right hand of Marcellin is kept in a gold reliquary. It will be possible to visit the Council room, where various Marist documents and childrens faces are exhibited which are present at the reflection, study and decisions of the General Council.
The corridor where the portraits of the Superior Generals are holds an exhibition highlighting five areas. The first one is the title, which brings together the content of the exhibition: The invitation of Jesus to take up his cross and follow him which has been taken up by 37.586 people who have made their religious profession as Marists from our origins until today.
The second is a tribute to the sanctity of the congregation which points out Marcellin, the martyrs and the confessors whose causes have been introduced.
The third shows some Brothers Martyrs grouped according to common characteristics. For example the Brothers who were in the infirmary in Les Avellanes together with those from Lleida who worked as male nurses when the school was turned into a hospital to receive the wounded coming from the battle front. Or the tribute to the mothers of all the martyrs, since two of the martyrs were brothers, there is another who said that he owed his vocation to his mothers prayers and a room where he wrote beautiful letters to his mother, etc.
The Marist Brothers Martyrs from Spain lived and died in community. This is the fourth area. Using the metaphor of team sport, eleven Brothers Martyrs highlight the virtues that they practiced in community. The master of novices and the director of the scholasticate, who also died, accompany them as trainers in the spiritual life. And finally, the fifth alludes to the Brothers who, with our Marist pedagogy fought on behalf of Christian education. The journey through the exhibition ends at the church where the names of the forty seven Brothers Martyrs form a crown around a great cross and the paschal candle.
These are the material preparations. Behind all of them is the joy of our brotherhood and our open heart so that everyone who visits the house may be happy and take part in the beautiful celebration of the beatification.

Brothers and students visit the General House
In the course of Friday 26th, on the eve of the beatification, the General House welcomed two groups of students from Germany and a large group of Brothers who had come from various parts of the world. Several of them took advantage of the opportunity to go round, at their leisure, the exhibition of the Brothers Martyrs, placed in the corridor of the Superiors, and they were able to end their tour in the church with a time of prayer beside the large cross erected in front of the altar and the paschal candle surrounded by 47 small lamps, each one of them placed beside the name of the Brothers Martyrs.
A significant presence was that of Brother Francisco Peruchena Ollacarizquieta (Policarpo Luis), companion of the Martyrs in the jail. He did not die, but has survived until today to be, at the age of 91, a living testimony of what happened. Brother Francisco Peruchena was born in Sarasa, Navarrese, on October 22 1916.
In the evening, Brother Superior General and his Council prayed together with the General Councils of the Marist branches, together with the archbishop of Burgos D. Francisco Gil Hellín and the Spanish ambassador to the Holy See D. Francisco Vázquez. Gathered at the top of the main stairway, the names of the newly beatified were proclaimed, interspersed with the Magnificat and concluding with the Salve Regina. In the centre there was an arrangement composed of dry roots from which emerged some beautiful flowers and a bundle of well grown ears of wheat. This phrase could be seen in four languages: God takes the good from the bad. A meal was then served to all the guests in the dining room of Villa EUR.

Meeting of the Marists in the sanctuary of La Madonna del Divino Amore
On Saturday October 27th the Brothers, close relatives of the newly beatified and Marist pilgrims joined the General Council and the Brothers of the General Administration in the sanctuary of La Madonna del Divino Amore, on the outskirts of Rome. This event was attended by over a thousand pilgrims coming from different parts of the world: Malaysia, Argentina, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Greece, Chile, USA, Canada, Holland, Great Britain, France, Venezuela, Central America, Paraguay, and, principally, from Spain. For two hours they celebrated the memory of the Martyrs in the wide modern temple of the sanctuary. Brother Luis Sobrado García, Vicar General, greeted the delegates of all the countries among whom a large group of young pilgrims stood out.
The celebration highlighted the faith and hope of the Brothers Martyrs. Four symbols represented the fire and the passion that lived in their hearts. Firstly, the paschal candle was carried in, to be put on the candlestick to illuminate all those present. Next the Word was introduced in procession, reminding those present that those who listen to the Word of God and put it into practice are blessed. The third symbol was a handful of ears of wheat, carriers of the seeds of life that commemorated the fruitful lives of the Brothers. Finally, the fourth symbol was two loaves of recently baked bread, gilded by the fire. The wheat grain that falls on the ground and dies giving much fruit. These four symbols, accompanied by hymns and meditation preceded the proclamation of the beatitudes.

Brother Seán Sammon, in his address, which appears on the web page dedicated to the beatifications, spoke of the gift of the lives of the newly beatified. He highlighted their youth, their humble family origins, their simplicity of life, but they ended up understanding that Jesus should be the centre of their lives. In each generation there are some few people who reach greatness by freely giving their lives. By holding God in greater esteem than their own life.
Seán pointed out that “Martyrs are dangerous. Not because of their beliefs, but because they are willing to act for their beliefs. And he invited those present to take two lessons from the life and death of these Brothers: To take the gospel seriously, as did these Brothers and to give their life to the service of the gospel. And he concluded his speech by calling out the name of each one of the Brothers Martyrs preceded by the word blessed.
Then, while the litanies of the newly beatified were sung, forty seven people of different ages came closer to the altar in procession, carrying palms. Those branches signified the victory of those who died for their faith in Jesus Christ. The picture was completed when the relatives of the Martyrs put a face to each one of those symbols, filling the steps of the altar. It was one of the most moving moments.
The ceremony concluded with the dedication of all those present to our Good Mother, worshipped in this place as Madonna del Divine Amore. Afterwards, the groups organized lunch in the grounds.
On the same day, at 18.30, the welcoming ceremony for the pilgrims took place in the basilica of Saint Pauls Outside the Walls, organized by the Spanish Episcopal Conference. Music, testimonies of some of the Martyrs, prayer. Mons. Ricardo Blázquez, bishop of Bilbao and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, directed a message of greeting to the pilgrims. The archbishop of Seville Cardinal Carlos Amigo also spoke, giving an address on the Beatitudes. Who these Martyrs are and from where they come. There was a musical tribute, including hymns in honour of the 498 Martyrs of the twentieth century in Spain, sung by the choirs of the cathedral of the Almudena of Madrid and the Rome Philharmonic.

The Beatification ceremony in Saint Peter’s Square
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 theweb http://www.champagnat.org/es/220411006.htm
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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