Approximately 80% of all the Martyrs were
killed in the first year of the war. According to one source, from July
18,1936, to April 1, 1937, no fewer than 6,832 
priests and religious, both men and women, were killed for the Faith.
was not one defection among them. [This does not include numerous
who were also Martyred.] After the first year, the Communist
gained some control of the anarchist situation, and they slowed down
open killings; not because they minded killing Catholics, but because
knew how Martyrdom increase the peoples' Faith. This was not their
Thirteen bishops were Martyred in 1936 alone, as compared to only two
in the whole of the French Revolution.
Of the Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, ten
were canonized in 1999, and there have been over five hundred
three in 1987, twenty-six in 1989, forty-four in 1995, 218 in 1996, and
another 233 just this past March. The word "Martyr" comes from the
meaning "witness," and what a witness to the true Faith are these
a virtual "cloud of witnesses"! [Heb. 12: 1]
A War on God
Directly opposed to any Catholic principles
of government, anarchy and Communism waged war in Spain on all
social, moral, and religious. Hating all authority other than their
they targeted God ultimately and, therefore, His Church. This can be
from their own mouths and by their actions: "Blaspheme, and we will let
you go," "Break your vows [promises to God], and we will stop torturing
you." As they entered a village, their first object of attack was the
There, the Communists and their henchmen would round up the priests and
religious [as well as anyone who protested], wreak all kinds of
and sacrilege, then pour round after round of ammunition into the
of the parish church.
These abominations were only a logical development
of the thinking of the Reds. After all, Lenin had said: "We must combat
religion-----this is the ABC of all materialism, and
consequently of Marxism ..."  A Communist
broadcast of 1954 stated: "The Communist Party has always been
opposed to religion, and has always fought it in a decisive manner."
hatred of the Church extended to all priests, even left-leaning ones.
is the case-----a very embarrassing one to the Republican
authorities-----of one shameful priest who was shot
even though he was well-known for his Leftist sympathies. May God have
mercy on his soul!
The First Martyrs
Two years before the war, in October of 1934,
the Martyrdom began with the shooting of eight Brothers of the
Schools and a Passionist priest who was assigned to their school in the
town of Turon, located in the northeastern mining valley of the
The priest and brothers were captured by a group of Communist rebels
broke into their school at dawn. Imprisoned and tried by a
Committee, they were sentenced to death because of their influence with
their students. At dawn on October 9, 1934, the nine religious were
to a cemetery and lined up before the large grave, newly dug. With
that made a lasting impression on their executioners [for so they
later], Brothers Cirilo Bertran, Marciano Jose, Victoriano Pio, Julian
Alfredo, Benjamin Julian, Benito de Jesus, Aniceto Adolfo, Augusto
and Father Inocencio de la Immaculada gave up their lives in two
of shots from a firing squad. The oldest of the group was just 46, and
the youngest four were not yet 26. The whole group was canonized on
Another Christian Brother was canonized with
them, St. Jaime Hilario Barbal. He had a hearing problem that prevented
him from becoming a priest, but he was admitted to the Brothers of the
Christian Schools in 1918, at the age of 29. He was an excellent
because of illness, was assigned to work in the gardens. His time was
in manual labor and encouraging vocations. He was arrested in 1936,
a year on a prison ship, the Mahon, before being condemned to death in
a mock trial. He died from the point blank shot of a pistol after two
from a fIring squad left him untouched [the executioners were only
meters away and they still didn't hit him]. The militiamen fled,
leaving their leader, blaspheming, to kill the Brother. St. Jaime
Barbal's last words were: "My friends, to die for Christ is to reign!"
He was Martyred on January 16, 1937. 
Flowers from Carmel
The first women religious to be Martyred
three Discalced Carmelite nuns [spiritual daughters of Saint Teresa of
Avila]: Sister Maria del Pilar [age 59, she had entered Carmel at the
of 21], Sister Teresa del Nino Jesus y de San Juan de la Cruz [age 27,
entered Carmel at 16], Sister Maria Angeles de San Jose [age 31,
at 24]. All three were Martyred on the twenty-fourth of July, 1936.
had been hiding in an apartment since their convent had been dispersed.
[This was common wherever the Reds were in control: the Sisters would
forced, usually for their safety, to wear lay clothes and go into
The three were taking a walk on the street near their refuge, when a
of militia recognized them. A militia woman screeched: "Nuns!" They
fire and chased the Sisters. Sister Maria Angeles was killed outright,
Sister Maria del Pilar was wounded [shot and then attacked with a
and Sister Teresa was dazed, but unhurt.
Several military Assault Guards showed up
and stopped the shooting. They tried to help Sister Maria del Pilar to
the hospital, hailing a bus for that purpose. The driver exclaimed: "A
nun? Give her here and I'll finish her off!" They called another
which took her safely to the hospital. She died that evening saying:
perdónalos. Viva Christo Rey!" [Father, forgive them. Long live
Christ the King!]
Sister Teresa was captured by a man with evil
intentions, but her virginal purity triumphed. A band of militia joined
the scene and tried to get the Sister to cry "Viva el Comunismo!" in
for freedom. When she cried "Viva Christo Rey!" they shot her. She died
with her arms outstretched in the form of a cross and another
"Viva Christo Rey!" on her lips. This is widely cited as the most
incident of the whole war. The three were beatified on March 29,
She is the nun on the left in the image above.
Blood and Gore
To give a mental picture of what it was like
to be arrested for the Faith under the Reds, a bird's-eye view might be
helpful. With the Red revolution and the "arming of the people" of July
18 and 19, 1936, a reign of terror ruled. The armed mobs, calling
militias, took all law and order into their own hands. Each group
the Red Left set up their own tribunals or chekas, so called after the
tribunals of the Soviet Police, and gathered their own prisoners. In
alone, over 50,000 people were massacred by this system in six months.
[See Red Terror in Madrid, Luis de Fonteriz, Longmans, Green and
Co., 1937.] Those that were not shot outright could look forward to
degrees of torture, any amount of time in makeshift
overcrowded, and unsanitary -----and perhaps a "trial."
Some of the chekas were run by S.I.M.-----the Spanish
equivalent of the K.G.B.-----whose tortures included:
placing people in freezers and ice water in the winter, cells too small
to stand or lie down in, or with water to the waist; carrying out
interrogations [using all sorts of techniques: sarcasm, blows, false
outrage, adulation, sleep deprivation, etc.]; the "compass" [a rack for
the legs], flagellations, splinters of wood driven underneath
the "Malayan boot" [an iron boot with screws that crush the bones], and
slow roasting over coals [like St. Lawrence]. Most of the tortures are
too terrible to write about, especially for the women, upon whom every
imaginable outrage was wrought. Many ladies died defending their
All the tortures and deaths of the Roman persecutions
have their modern counterpart under the Reds: victims being buried to
waist in sand, doused with gasoline and set afire, mutilated, having
skulls smashed, or being drowned in wells. There even exist rumors of
but none are documented. One priest in the mountains was shot twice
not killed], tied to a tree, and left for the wolves, literally. Not
the dead were respected. Those newly Martyred were usually mutilated
were often carried off for trophies], but even old cemeteries of
were desecrated. The priests and nuns long laid to rest were, in many
dug up and put on macabre display. In at least one case, the Reds also
dug up children from another cemetery and put them on display with the
bodies of sisters, telling the people that these were the "nuns' secret
children, whom they had murdered secretly."
Nothing was sacred to the persecutors: vestments,
sacred vessels used for Mass, and church furnishings were all objects
their impious sport. This included using statues for target practice.
God, Who is not mocked, inflicted His holy wrath upon the criminals,
even in this life: More than one militiaman was later injured in the
place, where he had mutilated some statue. One man had a child born
the same disfigurement as he had worked on of Our Lord.
Mocked and Scourged
The Martyrs suffered their frightfully cruel
torments with the dispositions one reads about in the lives of their
under Nero or Diocletian. They recalled that "the servant is not above
his Master" and often rejoiced at the opportunity to imitate Jesus
in His sorrowful and life-giving Passion. Witness the following priest,
scourged, as was our Lord:
"Father Oriol of Barcelona, a famous writer,
who lived at Manresa, was the son of Doctor Barjau, professor of Hebrew
and Arabic at the University, and the brother of the priest of a parish
in Barcelona. The revolutionaries seized him and led him to the
of the city. They stripped him of his clothes and bound him to a tree,
and whipped him until he was filled with deep wounds. After this
they announced to him that they would let Ilim go if he would deny God.
He answered that he would never do that. The assassins insisted. So he
began to recite the Te Deum. At every word that he pronounced, he
received a stroke of the whip. He lost consciousness several times, and
every time that he revived, he began again to recite the Te Deum
with fervor. It is in this way that he died, a true Martyr. The
of the Association of the Press of Manresa, who saw his corpse at the
reported that his body was covered with wounds, and that the wound on
face indicated that his beard had been plucked." 
All who are Baptized are Baptized in the death
of Christ [Rom. 6: 3]. Excepting only those innocents who are snatched
from this life before reaching the age of reason, all the Baptized are
called to share in the sufferings of Jesus. But to some is given the
grace to resist "unto blood." [Heb. 12: 4] How appropriate that, among
those who so resisted in Spain, were spiritual children of St. Paul of
the Cross, the eighteenth-century apostle of the Crucified Christ, who
vowed to promote the memory of our Lord's Passion. As can be seen by
artwork accompanying this article, the religious of his order, the
wear a badge representing the Sacred Heart, the Cross, and the Nails,
the words [in Greek and Latin] "The Passion of Jesus Christ."
On July 21,1936, at 11:30 p.m., a group of
militia banged on the door of the Passionist monastery in Daimiel
of Toledo]. The religious [priests, brothers, and seminarians] were
to abandon the monastery in half an hour. With great tranquility, the
relayed the message to the Provincial Superior, Padre Niceforo. Within
minutes, all the thirty-one religious were gathered in the chapel.
Niceforo, with Padre German, the Community Superior, gave the group
general absolution, and Holy Communion [leaving none of the Blessed
in reserve, in order to prevent sacrilege]. "Brothers, if our hour [for
death] arrives, have courage! Our Lord will be with us, let us receive
His help ... This is the hour of our Gethsemane. As an Angel gave
to Jesus, so He comforts and sustains us. Nature, on its part, grows
and frightened, but Jesus is with us ... and He comes to be the
of the weak ... Sharers of Calvary, have courage to die for Christ ..."
 The half-hour up, the militiamen returned
to escort the religious, supposedly to the station from whence they
be dispersed to various homes, but instead they were taken to the
Fully expecting death, the Passionists offered their lives to God with
one voice. Their sacrifice was delayed, however, for the leader of the
militia said that they could not afford to use gunpowder and bullets on
them. They were divided into five groups [Providentially, there was at
least one priest in each group)] and shipped to different parts of the
province, where there was not such a shortage of bullets. Between June
22 and October 23, twenty-six of the religious were shot. It is unclear
what happened to the remaining five, but these twenty-six were
on October 1, 1989. The youngest was eighteen years old, the oldest was
sixty-two, and fifteen of the others were under twenty-two years of age.
Addendum by the Web Master:
The Blessed Niceforo Diez Tejerina and his twenty-five
Passionist Companios, Martyrs of Daimiel (Ciudad Real-Spain),
sacrificed their life for the Faith between July 22 and October 23,
1936. Sixteen of them were between the ages of 18 and 21. Their
martyrdom is an incentive to live faithfully our Catholic Faith, united
as brothers in love and forgiveness. They were beatified by Pope John
Paul II on October 1, 1989.
Lord Jesus, Divine Martyr of Calvary, the
Passionist Martyrs of Daimiel generously sacrificed their lives in
order that Thy universal Kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and
grace, of justice, love and peace become a reality upon earth. Through
the merits of their sacrifice, united to Thine upon the Cross, grant
that we may work untiringly for the coming of Thy Kingdom of salvation
in the entire world, living as brothers and forgiving one another.
Through the intercession of these Thy Martyrs, grant us also the
particular grace we humbly implore for Thy glory and the good of our
(Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father).
Piazza SS Giovanni e Paolo 13
00184 - ROMA (Italia)
In Barbasto, a small town north of Aragon,
there was a large Claretian house of sixty religious belonging to the
of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary founded by Saint
Anthony Mary Claret. On July 20, 1936, a group of sixty armed
searched the house and imprisoned the whole community: nine priests,
lay Bothers, and thirty-nine seminarians. Father Felipe de Jesús
Munárriz, the superior, and two other minor superiors were
from the others and shot on August 2. The rest of the community spent
time in prison praying. They were constantly prepared for death, going
to Confession and Holy Communion whenever possible.
With no beds, water, or clean clothes,
insolent guards, people mocking them at the windows, no
those brought in to tempt them, they persevered in the Faith. In groups
from two to twenty, the religious were taken out and shot, after being
given a chance of freedom if they would join the revolutionary militia.
[Some of them had the privilege of dying on the anniversary of their
profession: August 15.] Despite the order for silence, they died
hymns and shouting: "Viva Christo Rey!"  In
all, fifty-one Claretians of Barbastro were Martyred within a few days
of each other; seven were spared because of old age or illness, and two
Argentines were deported. The Holy Father beatified them on October 25,
1992, along with seventy-one members of the Hospitaller Order of St.
of God, dedicated to caring for the sick in orthopedic centers for
and in psychiatric hospitals.
A Cloud of Witnesses
Other Orders [not counting the bishops and
secular priests] that can claim new Blesseds from Spain include: the
Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools [one, Father
Dionisio Pampona, escaped from prison long enough to consume all the
Hosts in the parish church, preventing terrible sacrilege], the
the Friars Minor [all branches], the Salesians of Saint John Bosco, the
Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, Carmelite Sisters of Charity,
of Mary, Sisters of the Pious Schools, Claretian Sisters, Little
of the Abandoned Elderly, and Sisters of Christian Doctrine.
This sketch would not be complete without
mentioning some of the lay men and women, both married and single, who
also willingly gave their lives for the Faith. 
Beatified on May 4, 1997, Ceferino Jemenez
MalIa was the first Gypsy to be enrolled among the Church's Beati. Long
Known for his exemplary life and wise counsel, despite his lack of
he was seventy-five years old when shot by a firing squad. He had been
arrested for harboring a young cleric, and had refused the terms of
to stop openly professing the Faith and to throwaway his Rosary.
Blessed Victoria Diez y Bustos de Molina was
an exemplary teacher beatified on October 1,1993. An only child, she
her life to teaching and joined the Teresian Institute, which was
by Father Pedro Poveda Castroverde for the purpose of training
spiritually as well as intellectually. [He is himself a beatified
of this war.] "Praying before the Blessed Sacrament I find strength,
light and all the love I need to help those entrusted to me on the way
of salvation," Blessed Victoria once said. Always calm, witnesses
to her encouragement of the others with whom she suffered a violent
in an abandoned mine shaft at dawn on August 12. "Come on! Our reward
waiting for us. Long live Christ the King!" She was thirty-three years
Blessed Vincente Vilar David was a model of
the Catholic worker. He was known for his charity to the poor and for
Catholic morals and values among his peers . . . "The good will be
..." ----Our Lady
of Fatima, 1917.
1. This number
is extremely conservative. The 1937 edition of La Persecution Religiuse
En Espagne gives the figure at 16,750 priests alone. "According to
the official records, which we possess from the nineteenth of July to
beginning of February, in the areas occupied by the Reds, they had
16,750 priests and 11 bishops. All fell under the bullets and the
of the Marxists and the Anarchists. The old priests as well as the
assistants, the sick and the impotent, the benefactor of the people,
teacher, the scholar, the journalist, the retired [among these, no
was made]. Very few persecutions in all history of the Church present
a high number of Martyrs sacrificed in such a short amount of time."
76-----translation by Brother
Francis, M.I.C.M. The Abbe de Nantes' Catholic Counter-Reformation
of September 2000 gives the following figures: 13 bishops, 4,317
priests, 2,489 monks (priests and brothers), 283 nuns, 249 seminarians,
and innumerable laity.
No 45, May 1909 (Quoted in Fatal Star, Hamish Fraser, Neumann Press,
1987, page 70).
3. A detailed
description of his "trial" and death make up chapter three of Catholic
Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War -----A
Catholic Holocaust, by Fray Justo Perez de Urbel.
4. La Persecution
Religiuse En Espagne. page 100, translated from the French by Brother
Y Testimonio, Fernando Pielagos, C.P., PP. Passionistas, Zaragoza
1989, pg. 213 if. (translated by Miss Heidi Filipi).
6. One of their
murderers testified: "Those G ... d ... fools! No one could shut them
up! All the way they sang and praised Christ the King. One of them fell
dead when we hit him with the butt of a gun, and this is no lie. But
more we hit them, the more they sang and shouted: Viva Christo Rey!"
Last Crusade, Warren H. Carroll, Christendom Press, 1996, page 110).
women and eighteen men of Catholic Action were beatified this past
, but of their stories, nothing was available, except that some
married and had families, some were single, and some were teachers.