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Martyrs of Barbastro

Their final testaments written on chocolate wrappers, books, and a piano stool

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Claretian Priests, Brothers, and Seminarians: d. 1936

Their story

+ The “Martyrs of Barbastro” is the designation given by the Church to 51 members of the Missionary Sons of Mary Immaculate (the Claretians) murdered in Barbastro (Huenca), Spain, on August 12-13, 1936.

+ The martyrs died as part of the general wave of religious persecution and anti-clerical fanaticism of the Spanish Civil War.

+ After the fall of Barbastro the Claretian community had been imprisoned in a school of the Piarist Fathers (who had been executed or exiled) and the priests, religious, and seminarians were held there for several weeks, often experiencing abuse and suffering from inhumane conditions and oppressive heat.

+ On August 12, knowing that the end was at hand, the imprisoned Claretians wrote their farewells in books, on a piano stool, and on chocolate wrappers. The community’s final message, written on August 12, reads: “August 12, 1936, in Barbastro. Six of our companions are already martyrs: Soon we hope to be, too. But before this happens, we want to make it clear that we die forgiving those who are taking away our life and offering it for the Christian ordering of the working world, for the definitive reign of the Catholic Church, for our beloved Congregation and for our beloved families. THIS IS THE FINAL OFFERING TO THE CONGREGATION, FROM HER MARTYR CHILDREN!”(Forty signatures follow, preceded by cheers to Christ and to the Heart of Mary). And it ended: “Live immortal, beloved Congregation. As long as you have children in the dungeons such as those you have here in Barbastro, have no doubt that your fate is eternal. Would that I had fought in your ranks: Blessed be God!”

+ The Martyrs of Barbastro were beatified with other martyrs of the Spanish Civil War in 1992.

Spiritual Bonus

The Claretians is an international missionary community founded by St. Anthony Mary Claret. Their mission takes them among the poor as they advocate and work for justice in a wide variety of ministries.


May the sight of the great number of your holy Martyrs gladden us, O Lord, making our faith stronger and bringing us consolation by the prayers of them all. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Martyrs—For Several Martyrs)


Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.

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