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The celebrations of the beatification of our Brothers Martyrs

02/11/2007: General House

Brothers and students visit the General House
In the course of Friday 26th, on the eve of the beatification, the General House welcomed two groups of students from Germany and a large group of Brothers who had come from various parts of the world. Several of them took advantage of the opportunity to go round, at their leisure, the exhibition of the Brothers Martyrs, placed in the corridor of the Superiors, and they were able to end their tour in the church with a time of prayer beside the large cross erected in front of the altar and the paschal candle surrounded by 47 small lamps, each one of them placed beside the name of the Brothers Martyrs.

A significant presence was that of Brother Francisco Peruchena Ollacarizquieta (Policarpo Luis), companion of the Martyrs in the jail. He did not die, but has survived until today to be, at the age of 91, a living testimony of what happened. Brother Francisco Peruchena was born in Sarasa, Navarrese, on October 22 1916.

In the evening, Brother Superior General and his Council prayed together with the General Councils of the Marist branches, together with the archbishop of Burgos D. Francisco Gil Hellín and the Spanish ambassador to the Holy See D. Francisco Vázquez. Gathered at the top of the main stairway, the names of the newly beatified were proclaimed, interspersed with the Magnificat and concluding with the Salve Regina. In the centre there was an arrangement composed of dry roots from which emerged some beautiful flowers and a bundle of well grown ears of wheat. This phrase could be seen in four languages: God takes the good from the bad. A meal was then served to all the guests in the dining room of Villa EUR.

Meeting of the Marists in the sanctuary of La Madonna del Divino Amore

On Saturday October 27th the Brothers, close relatives of the newly beatified and Marist pilgrims joined the General Council and the Brothers of the General Administration in the sanctuary of La Madonna del Divino Amore, on the outskirts of Rome. This event was attended by over a thousand pilgrims coming from different parts of the world: Malaysia, Argentina, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Greece, Chile, USA, Canada, Holland, Great Britain, France, Venezuela, Central America, Paraguay, and, principally, from Spain. For two hours they celebrated the memory of the Martyrs in the wide modern temple of the sanctuary. Brother Luis Sobrado García, Vicar General, greeted the delegates of all the countries among whom a large group of young pilgrims stood out.

The celebration highlighted the faith and hope of the Brothers Martyrs. Four symbols represented the fire and the passion that lived in their hearts. Firstly, the paschal candle was carried in, to be put on the candlestick to illuminate all those present. Next the Word was introduced in procession, reminding those present that those who listen to the Word of God and put it into practice are blessed. The third symbol was a handful of ears of wheat, carriers of the seeds of life that commemorated the fruitful lives of the Brothers. Finally, the fourth symbol was two loaves of recently baked bread, gilded by the fire. The wheat grain that falls on the ground and dies giving much fruit. These four symbols, accompanied by hymns and meditation preceded the proclamation of the beatitudes.

Brother Seán Sammon, in his address, which appears on the web page dedicated to the beatifications, spoke of the gift of the lives of the newly beatified. He highlighted their youth, their humble family origins, their simplicity of life, but they ended up understanding that Jesus should be the centre of their lives. In each generation there are some few people who reach greatness by freely giving their lives. By holding God in greater esteem than their own life.

Seán pointed out that “Martyrs are dangerous. Not because of their beliefs, but because they are willing to act for their beliefs. And he invited those present to take two lessons from the life and death of these Brothers: To take the gospel seriously, as did these Brothers and to give their life to the service of the gospel. And he concluded his speech by calling out the name of each one of the Brothers Martyrs preceded by the word blessed.

Then, while the litanies of the newly beatified were sung, forty seven people of different ages came closer to the altar in procession, carrying palms. Those branches signified the victory of those who died for their faith in Jesus Christ. The picture was completed when the relatives of the Martyrs put a face to each one of those symbols, filling the steps of the altar. It was one of the most moving moments.

The ceremony concluded with the dedication of all those present to our Good Mother, worshipped in this place as Madonna del Divine Amore. Afterwards, the groups organized lunch in the grounds.

On the same day, at 18.30, the welcoming ceremony for the pilgrims took place in the basilica of Saint Pauls Outside the Walls, organized by the Spanish Episcopal Conference. Music, testimonies of some of the Martyrs, prayer. Mons. Ricardo Blázquez, bishop of Bilbao and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, directed a message of greeting to the pilgrims. The archbishop of Seville Cardinal Carlos Amigo also spoke, giving an address on the Beatitudes. Who these Martyrs are and from where they come. There was a musical tribute, including hymns in honour of the 498 Martyrs of the twentieth century in Spain, sung by the choirs of the cathedral of the Almudena of Madrid and the Rome Philharmonic.

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