It was quite providential to meet two of the eye witnesses of our elder brothers on their way to martyrdom. They were Francisco Cece and Ricardo. Ricardo lived very close to our seminary and he still remembers that he saw his mother looking outside through the upper window and crying. As a child he was curious to see the sight that made his mother cry. It was heartbreaking for him as a child to see the Claretian missionaries captured and taken in custody by the anarchist and they were taken to Piarist Auditorium. Francisco Cece (93 years old now) and his family lived in Barcelona till 1935. In 1936 they came to Barbastro and settled near to the town hall. In those days it was common for the children to play in the streets. As he was playing together with his other companions he saw Luis Masferrer cmf who was his catechism teacher together with others were taken to Piarist School where he studied. He followed them in distance as child because he did not understand the seriousness of what is happening; but he was sad to see his catechism teacher is taken in custody by the anarchist. Fr. Santiago Mompel (Piarist) was his class teacher who later tells about Claretians. He was the Chronicler of their congregation who wrote in the Chronicle telling that he saw twenty Claretians were taken for execution from the Piarist school to a place three kilometers away from the school, and he could hear exactly twenty gun shots which he testifies that it was the execution of twenty Claretian brothers.
Above all it was really inspiring to read the letters of Flaviano Martínez and Rafael Briega in the Museum. Flaviano Writes to his sister in January 1935 “Perhaps one day you will hear about your brother Flaviano being in China, then later you may hear that he forgave his enemies and died for Christ. If this happens this would be my greatest joy.” Rafael Briega writes a letter just before Martyrdom and asked the Argentinian brother to give to Fr. Fogued. “I cannot go to china as I wished but I am most willing to offer my blood for china mission and when I am in heaven, I will never forget to pray for this mission.” Yes it is true that there are our elder brothers in heaven interceding for us especially for the mission in Chinese speaking area.
It’s crystal clear that these young Claretians of Barbastro died for defending their identity, for being religious, for standing alongside Jesus and those who were suffering in the civil war for their faith. Nevertheless the blood that flew from their wounds was not shed in vengeance; it really transfused into our veins and stimulated the growth and expansion of the congregation throughout the world. Therefore, with the blood they shed they inspire us all every day to live and die for the word of God we have been called to proclaim. As Jose Maria Viñas cmf says “Martyrdom is a constitutive dimension of our following of Christ the evangelizer, and being formed to be a missionary is the same as being formed to be a martyr”.
“Long live Christ the king! Long live the Heart of Mary! Long live the Congregation! Farewell, dear Institute. We are going to heaven to pray for you. Adiós, Adiós!”, Faustino Perez cmf.