On October 13, 2013 the six Redemptorist martyrs from the time of the Spanish civil war (1936-39) were declared Blessed. “From July 1936 until April 1939 civil war raged in Spain. During this time many priests and religious were imprisoned, kidnapped and often savagely killed. The Republicans and the Nationalists, as the rebels were called, proceeded to secure their respective territories by executing thousands of suspected people. The Catholic Church was one of the main sufferers. Thousands of priests, religious and laypeople died for the faith in execution-style killings. British historian Michael Burleigh called the killing of clergy and religious: “the worst example of anticlerical violence in modern history, surpassing even the French Revolution for that dubious distinction.” Pope Francis beatified 522 more Spanish martyrs in October 13, 2013. It was the greatest numbers of persons ever beatified at once up to that time in the Church’s history. The beatified were martyred in the years 1934, 1936, and 1937. The breadth of the persecution was also reflected in the range of their ages with the youngest being 16 and the oldest 71. Of these, 13 were bishops, and over 6,000 were priests and religious. Among these, almost 1000 have already been canonised or beatified. Another 2000 cases are in process. There were six Redemptorists, from the community of St. Felipe in Cuenca, who became members of this persecuted group. We celebrate with the whole Church the feast of the six Redemptorist martyrs on November 5th on this occasion it is good to know about their lives.
There are cases involving fourteen other Redemptorist martyrs are still in process. For the first 200 years of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, no Redemptorist Missionary was killed and recognized by the Church as a martyr. St. Alphonsus had dreamed of Redemptorist Missionaries proclaiming the gospel in distant places and embracing martyrdom in fidelity to the Gospel. However, before 1936, no Redemptorist Missionary had yet been martyred for the faith. It is remarkable that since 2001, the Church has recognized eleven Redemptorist Martyrs who gave their lives for Christ and his people, all in the 20th century and all in Europe – in Spain, Ukraine and Slovakia.