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Celebration in Tarragona

17/10/2013: Spain - Photo gallery

Sunday 13 October 2013 was the date set for the beatification of 522 martyrs of the XX century, including  68 Marist Brothers. The ceremony took place in the grounds of the Catholic education complex in Tarragona. This was the largest beatification ceremony held in Spain, with a congregation of some 25,000 persons. It was presided over by the prefect of the  Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, accompanied by 104 bishops  - thirty from abroad – 8 cardinals and 1,400 priests. In addition to the civil authorities, there were 4,000 relatives of the martyrs present at the ceremony, according to the local press.

It was a bright, beautiful morning, with a limpid blue sky, fitting for celebrating the victory of the God of life, the risen Jesus, and with him all those who had died in him, especially the witnesses of the faith who had shed their blood for God. The celebration began punctually at noon. The choir of the Monastery of Montserrat and an orchestra provided the music.

The Eucharist began with a solemn entrance procession, followed by the blessing of the water and the aspersions. Those taking part were then able to listen to the personal message of Pope Francis, transmitted by video. He said, among other things: «The Holy Fathers say: ‘Let us imitate the martyrs!’ It is always necessary to die a little in order to come out of ourselves, our egoism, our wellbeing, our laziness, our sadnesses and open ourselves to God, to others, especially to those most in need of us. Let us ask for the intercession of the martyrs to be concrete Christians, Christians in deeds and not in words; to not be mediocre Christians, Christians with a coat of Christianity but without substance…»

The Archbishop of Tarragona, Mgr Jaume Pujol Balcells, then requested the beatification of the 522 martyrs. Cardinal Angelo Amato read the Apostolic Letter in which His Holiness, Pope Francis, inscribed in the book of the blessed those who gave their lives in defence of the faith.  As the text was read, the images of the blessed appeared on the giant screens. Thus, the participants were able to see, among others, Brothers Crisanto and Cipriano José, and the two laymen, Ramón Emiliano Hortelano Gómez and Julián Aguilar Martín. At the end of the reading, the beatification logo was unfurled to the sound of «Christus vincit» with the images of the martyrs as background.

A solemn procession accompanied a beautiful urn containing the relics of the martyrs to a place near the altar, surrounded by 7 lamps and flowers, where they were venerated and incensed. Then Cardinal Amato presented a copy of the Apostolic Letter to each of the diocesan bishops involved and to each Postulator, including our Br Luis Jorge Flores.

The Eucharist continued with the Gloria and the Liturgy of the Word. In his homily, the Pope’s representative, Cardinal Amato, said: «Our brothers and sisters were not combatants, they had no weapons, were not at the front, did not support any party, were not provocators. They were peaceful men and women. They were killed out of hatred for the faith, simply because they were Catholics, because they were priests, seminarians, religious men and women, because they believed in God and their only treasure was Jesus, whom they loved more than their lives. They hated no one, they loved everyone, they did good to all. Their apostolate was catechesis in the parishes, teaching in the schools, care of the sick, charity to the poor, assistance to elderly persons and the marginalised…» And he continued:

« What message does our martyrs, ancient and modern offer us ? They leave us a double message. Before everything, they invite us to pardon. Pope Francis reminded us recently that the joy of God is to pardon!… There is the whole Gospel, the whole of Christianity! It is not a watered down sentiment, on the contrary, mercy is the true power which can save man from the ‘cancer’ which is sin, moral evil, spiritual evil. Only love can fill the chasms, the devastating whirlwind which evil opens in the heart and in history. Only love can do that, and such is the joy of God !… May today’s celebration then be the feast of reconciliation, of pardon given and received, the triumph of the Lord of peace… »

« From this comes a second message: that of the conversion of the heart to goodness and mercy. We are all called to convert ourselves to the good, those who call themselves Christians as well as those who do not. The Church also invites the persecutors not to be afraid of conversion, not to fear the good, to refuse the evil. The lord is a good father who pardons and welcomes, with open arms, all his children straying on the paths of evil and sin. »

There followed the Credo, the intentions and the eucharistic liturgy, in union with all the martyrs of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. At the end,  Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, Archbishop of  Madrid and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, addressed some words of thanks before the solemn blessing. The «Virolai», a hymn in honour of N.D. of Montserrat, brought the liturgical celebration to a close. The image of the Black Virgin (« Moreneta ») had stood beside the altar throughout the celebration, in a way presiding.

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