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First steps have been made in the beatification process for a second group of martyrs

17/12/2007: General House

Vibrant still are the memories of the Beatification of forty seven Marist Brothers of Spain. The ceremony took place on October 28, 2007 in an atmosphere of immense joy and deep emotion for those who made their pilgrim way from Spain for the occasion.

Now our duty is to preserve a vivid memory of the occasion and to deepen the sense of what we celebrated back on October 28. By doing so, we want to offer to the world something of the overflow of life that springs from the celebration. On Saturday, December 1, 2007, one of the Beatification officials told me, “All the Brothers attained to martyrdom as vibrant, committed Christians, filled with the light of Christian values. Such example which preceded their martyrdom is the most practical lesson they can give us. Thus, in our turn, we are to be Christians committed to the values of the Gospel. Martyrdom flows like a syllogism from the logic of the committed life. In our case, we are neither simply to admire the martyrs nor to live a kind of passive martyrdom. Rather we are to be, in our day, enterprising followers of the Lord.”

On November 27, five days before the preceding comment was made, the postulators of the Spanish martyrs gathered for a meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to initiate the first steps towards beatification for a second group of twenty eight causes, comprising in all 448 martyrs. In the second group of causes, we Marist Brothers are promoting that of Brother Crisanto and his companions. There are sixty eight persons all together: sixty six Marist Brothers and two lay people. One of the latter two was a student killed in the town of Denia along with the Director, Brother Millán. The second layman was friend of one of the Brothers, and both layman and Brother were in the Republican army. When the two were found to be practicing Christians, they were shot; gasoline was poured on their bodies and set alight.

Brother Crisanto’s cause is complex, because it gathers into one cause those of Brothers killed in widely separated communities: Les Avellanes, Toledo, Valencia, Vich, Ribadesella, Badajoz, Málaga, Madrid, Chinchón, Torrelaguna, Cabezón de la Sal, Barruelo de Santullán, Huesca, Denia, Artziniega, Barcelona…

The cause bears the name of Brother Crisanto who was director of aspirants in Las Avellanes. He was killed on August 27, 1936, more than one month before the martyrs associated with Brother Lauentino. Brother Crisanto’s “Positio” was submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints on December 7, 2001.

Among the twenty eight causes under discussion one may find : bishops, priests, Carmelites, Franciscans, Trinitarians, Mercederians, Benedictines, Redemptorists, De la Salle Brothers, Marists Brothers… and several lay persons.

Patience is a must in these matters. The work which is now getting under way in connection with the 448 martyrs will almost certainly not lead to a beatification before nine or ten years have passed.

It is, in fact, important not to be overwhelmed by the splendors of a beatification ceremony or even by the act of martyrdom itself, but rather by the lesson of the vibrant Christian life of the Lord’s disciples. A lesson like that is within our reach. It is, indeed, the essential lesson: that we too should be fervent disciples who spread the values of the Gospel in today’s world, within its cultural setting, and for contemporary people.

Bro. Giovanni Maria Bigotto, Postulator.

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