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Sunday, December 17, 2017
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October 10: Eleven Martyrs of Almeria, Spain

The Spanish civil war began in 1936. It has been described as a struggle between atheism and belief in God. The particular object of persecution was the Catholic Church. In three years, 12 bishops; 4,184 priests; 2,365 monks and 300 nuns died for the faith. Today we celebrate eleven of those martyrs: two bishops, a diocesan priest, seven Brothers of the Christian Schools, and a young lay woman. The bishops were from Almeria and Gaudix, Spain. The seven Brothers of the Christian Schools were teachers at St. Joseph College in Almeria. Father Pedro Castroverde was a well-known scholar and founder of the Teresian Association. Victoria Diez Molina belonged to the Teresians. She had found a spiritual treasure in the way this group prayed and lived their Christian responsibilities. Victoria was a teacher in a country school and was very active in her parish.

All eleven martyrs chose to die for Jesus rather than give up their Catholic faith. Brother Aurelio Maria, soon to be killed, was the director of St. Joseph College. He said: "What happiness for us if we could shed our blood for the lofty ideal of Christian education. Let us double our fervor so to become worthy of such an honor." Bishop Medina of Gaudix said: "We have done nothing to deserve death. But I forgive you so that the Lord will also forgive us. May our blood be the last shed in Almeria." Bishop Ventaja of Almeria had many opportunities to flee the country. He chose instead to remain with his suffering people, his suffering Church. Father Castroverde, the Teresian founder, wrote in his diary: "Lord, may I think what you want me to think. May I desire what you want me to desire. May I speak as you want me to speak. May I work as you want me to work." He was killed on July 28, 1936.

Victoria Molina was jailed on August 11, 1936. She and seventeen others were led to an abandoned mine shaft and to their death. Victoria comforted the others and said: "Come on, our reward is waiting for us." Her last words were: "Long live Christ the King."

Pope John Paul II proclaimed these martyrs "blessed" on October 10, 1993.

We can ask these eleven heroes of God to give us their courage. We could make the prayer of Blessed Pedro Castroverde our own:

Lord, may I think what you want me to think.

May I desire what you want me to desire. May I speak as you want me to speak. May I work as you want me to work. Amen.

Reflection: Let us make the prayer of Blessed Pedro Castroverde our own: Lord, may I think what you want me to think. May I desire what you want me to desire. May I speak as you want me to speak. May I work as you want me to work.