The Beautification of the Spanish Martyrs was Moving

banner.web The Beautification of the Spanish Martyrs was MovingOur John Malazdrewich, OMI, was one of two Canadians who took part in the public ceremonies (December 17 and 18, 2011) that beatified the twenty-two Oblate martyrs and the one lay man from the 1936 civil war in Spain.

Several times John reiterated that what left the deepest impression on him was to be present in the actual Oblate house where the Oblates were held prisoner and to stand in the very room in the basement of the Oblate scholaticate where they were imprisoned.  He stood on the actual ground of their sufferings. With amzement John added, “They were prisoners in their own house!’

The second significant fact was the presence of an elderly Oblate (age 92 or 93) who was a novice at the actual time and personally knew the Oblates who were executed.  He was a living connection with these men who were martyred seventy-five years ago. This connection spoke very deeply to John. This living connection has kept the memory of these martyrs alive through the seven decades.

He attended the beatification as a President of Crocus and as a representative of the OMI  Lacombe Province. “This was a significant event. We do not have a beatification every day.”

People gathered a few days earlier. There were many Oblates from all over the world.  A large number from Spain, a large number from Europe, South Africa, USA and two Canadians. We stayed in the small suburb of Madrid, in the actual house where the prisoners were taken and kept. The house, located in Pozeula, is located at the top of a hill which overlooks the city of Madrid. This was a strategic point for the rebels to control and witness the burning of buildings within the city of Madrid.

malazdrewich3.web The Beautification of the Spanish Martyrs was Moving

John Malazdrewich OMI

In 1936 this was the Oblate Scholasticate but now it includes the Provincial House. “Living in the same house brought us all much closer to the actual event. You could almost feel the presence of these Oblates.”

On the night before the beatification, with a Spanish supper at 9:00 pm, the group travelled to a local parish where there was a production that told the story of the Spanish martyrs. The production told the story through the voice of a child, with a group of singers (in Spanish) and some live actors. This was complemented by the inclusion of a video production.

The actual beatification happened at the Cathedral in Madrid (the building was completed in 1991). This is a magnificent building. The beatification liturgy was very much a Church event with the presence of three cardinals, fourteen bishops, the Diocesan clergy and many Oblates. The procession into the Cathedral was very lengthy.

At the beginning of the beatification Mass the official decree was read. The symbol of the martyr is the palm branch. The family members of the martyrs (nieces  and nephews) carried in thirteen very large palm branches and placed then to commemorate the martydom of their relatives. John remarked several times that “there are still survivors and family members who are actually alive.”

On Sunday, December 18, there was a Mass of  Thanksgiving in the Oblate parish. Fr. Louis Lougen, OMI, presided. One of the families presented a chasuable, made specially for this occasion, to be kept in this Oblate parish in memory of the martyrs.

“This gatherings was an “Oblate family celebration.”  It was down to earth, and had a very strong family feeling to the entire celebration.”

The one layman who was also martyred with the twenty-two Oblates had a grandson who is a priest and a granddaughter who is a nun, (she gave one of the Scripture readings) present at the Oblate, Sunday Mass.

The perservance of the memory of these Oblate martyrs is expressed by the statute of Mary in the house at Pozeula. During the invasion of the scholasticate house the rebels tried to destroy the statue. They tried to smash it and they tried to burn it. Both acts of destruction failed. The statue  has missing fingers on the hands. As the statue of Mary could not be destroyed, may the memory of the Oblate martyrs never be forgotten!

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