Our Madrid Martyrs

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The process of beatification of the group of confreres martyred in 1936 in Madrid continues rapidly. It involves the redemptorist priests Vicente Renuncio, Antonio Girón, Donato Jiménez, Crescendo Ortiz, Ángel Martínez Miquélez and José Ma Urruchi and Brothers Nicesio Pérez, Gregorio Zugasti, Aniceto Lizasoáin, Gabriel (Bernardo) Saiz, Máximo (Rafael) Perea and Pascual (José) Erviti, belonging to the houses of Perpetuo Socorro and San Miguel. Their process began in 2006 and completed the diocesan phase in 2007.

It is common knowledge that in addition to the group of martyrs of Cuenca, already beatified in Tarragona in October 2013, the Redemptorist missionaries had two other groups of martyrs in Spain, one in Valencia of two Brothers, integrated into a process still in the diocesan phase; and another in Madrid made up of twelve confreres, six priests, and six coadjutor Brothers. In all, twenty Redemptorists were martyred in the religious persecution of 1936-39. Other victims, caused either by the collateral effects of the war and persecution or by the actions of the war, were not, of course, added to the martyrdom process at the time.

Recently we reported that the process of canonization of the group of martyrs in Madrid was progressing well. On September 24th, 2020, the Positio Super Martyrium was studied, and discussion had on the candidates for martyrdom, headed by Fr. Vicente Renuncio.  Each of the nine theologian members of this Congress constituted by the Promoter of the Faith of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for the study of the Positio had to write a report on the twelve confreres’ martyrdom, and finally give their opinion. The result was a unanimous positive vote.

Together with the Positio, these reports and votes will be handed over to the Congress of Cardinals and Bishops to be studied. If the result is positive, the Pope will sign the Decree of martyrdom, which will open the doors to their beatification and public worship.

The confreres in this group are the following:

Fr. Crescencio Ortiz Bianco (Pamplona 1881), Fr. Ángel Martínez Miquélez (Funes – Navarra 1907) and Gabriel (Bernardo) Saiz Gutierrez (Melgosa – Burgos 1896) belonged to the Community of San Miguel, where the first two had just been assigned. On July 20th, 1936, at 12:30 in the morning, they left the residence to take refuge in a nearby flat. Surrounded by a crowd of people who were euphoric about the fall of the Cuartel de la Montana, they were arrested, taken to a prison cell, and martyred that same afternoon in the Casa de Campo, along with other prisoners from the city. Their bodies were buried alongside those of the deceased of the Cuartel de la Montana.

While hiding in a diocesan priest’s house, Brothers Nicesio Pérez del Palomar Quincoces (Tuesta – Alava 1859) and Gregorio Zugasti Fernández de Esquide (Murillo de Yerri – Navarrà), both from the Perpetuo Socorro Community, the former almost blind, and the latter responsible for his care, decided to leave the house so as to not compromise the diocesan priest when the house porter threatened the house owner. Hidden in a cellar-storeroom of the Perpetuo Socorro publishing house, a woman in Covarrubias Street took them into her home. The building owner alerted the police station on Nicasio Gallego Street, and the militiamen proceeded to arrest them on August 14th, 1936.  That same morning, they were shot dead at km. 8 of the Valencia road. Their remains were buried in the Vallecas cemetery and later transferred to our Almudena pantheon.

Br. Aniceto Lizasoain Lizaso (Irañeta – Navarra 1877), was also a member of the Perpetuo Socorro community. He found shelter in the house of Mrs. Emilia Alcázar, mother of Fr. Hortelano. For greater security, he found a pension in Calle Larra. Someone alerted the militiamen who arrested and martyred him on August 18th, 1936, near the Chamartín cemetery. His remains currently rest in the Valle de los Caídos.

Fr. José M.ª Urruchi (Ayudas Burgos 1909) and Br. Pascual (José Joaquín) Erviti Insausti (Echalecu – Navarra 1902), both also of the Perpetuo Socorro Community, were hosted by a family in Calle Manuel Silvela, nº 3, but someone betrayed them. On the morning of August 21st, 1936, the militiamen arrived and arrested the two Redemptorists and the house owner for sheltering them. The next morning their bodies were found on the Getafe road. Their remains are buried in our pantheon in the Almudena.

Fr. Antonio Girón González (Campo – León 1871) of the Perpetuo Socorro community was housed by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Calle Almagro. When warned of a possible search, he was transferred to the asylum run by the same Sisters in Calle Doctor Ezquerdo. There they shared their life with Fr. Requejo, a Pauline priest who has since been beatified. Both were betrayed by an older man and martyred on August 30th, 1936, at Fuente Carrantona in the Vallecas district. Their remains are in the Valle de los Caídos.

Fr. Donato Jiménez Viviano (Alaejos – Valladolid 1873), of the Community of San Miguel, after being in other places, took refuge in the house of the Farmacia de la Reina Madre, on Calle Mayor. On September 15th, 1936, he was arrested and taken to the “checa de Fomento”, where he spent several days in the dungeons. He was martyred on September 18th at km. 12 of the Burgos road, in the district of Fuencarral, in whose cemetery he was buried.

Bro. Máximo (Rafael) Perea Pinedo (Múrita – Burgos 1903), of the Perpetuo Socorro community, was lodged in various homes, but ended up in a boarding house in the Barrio de las Letras in Madrid where he was arrested and taken to the “checa de Fomento”. His body was found martyred in the Ciudad Universitaria on November 3rd, 1936. His remains lie in the Valle de los Caídos.

Vicente Renuncio Toribio (Villayuda – Burgos 1876) took refuge in several homes and was arrested as undocumented on September 17th, 1936.  He was imprisoned that same day in the Cárcel Modelo. He managed, through a friend, to have Fr. Machiñena taken to his cell. He created a new identity for himself with his second name and third and fourth surnames on entering the prison, but he gave himself away by exercising his priestly ministry in the prison yards. He was taken out of prison in the first of the sackings on November 7th, 1936, and was martyred in the graves of Paracuellos de Jarama, where lie his remains.

The trial investigations began immediately after the end of the war, which provided a large amount of first-hand documentation. Once this was completed, the diocesan phase of the process began in 2006 and culminated with the closing session held on November 27th, 2007, at the Perpetuo Socorro house in Madrid. The Positio was presented in Rome in March 2019.

I want to complete this information with two pieces of information that deserve our recognition and gratitude.

Fr. Lino Vea Murgía and Bru, was the priest who hosted Brothers Nicesio and Gregorio. He was threatened for having welcomed the Redemptorists. He, too, was martyred on August 17th, 1936, in the Almudena cemetery.  Don Roberto González Nandín y Sobrino and his wife took in Fr. José M.ª Urruchi and Br. Pascual (José Joaquín) Erviti into their home at Manuel Silvela 3. When the Redemptorists were discovered, Roberto was at work. They forced him to return and the three of them were martyred.

Both Fr. Lino and Mr. Roberto were martyred for taking in the Redemptorists. Their trial is still in the diocesan phase and is being processed in the Diocese of Madrid. Their memory must remain united to that of our confreres. Let us hope that soon we will be able to celebrate their memory liturgically.

Antonio. M. Quesada

Credit: Noticiero Español Redentorista, No 660, February, 2021.

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