Venerable Joan de Jesus, OCD
With things being so busy I did not get a chance to blog much recently. No doubt you all heard about the new decrees issued by Pope Francis clearing the way for the beatification of ninety-five new martyrs of the religious persecution during the Spanish Civil War. Among these are four of our brothers, Discalced Carmelites friars from the Lleida community in Catalonia.
I have been trying to get information on them, but so far I have little apart from the date of their deaths and their places and dates of birth. I was trying to write an article on them for our Community's newsletter which is to be distributed on Saturday. I have written to Fr Romano our Postulator General, so hopefully he will get back to me with some info.
The four friars, three priests and one brother, were martyred in July and August 1936. The leader of the group, the first to be martyred was Fr Joan de Jesus (born Joan Vilaregut Farre in Vic, Barcelona in 1907). He is of interest to me because we both share the name religious name in Carmel. Joan, by the way is Catalan for John. He was martyred on the 24th July 1936 together with Br Bartolmeu of the Passion (born Josep Olive Vivo in Tarragona in 1894). They died in the first wave of persecution. Following the fall of Catalonia in July 1936, the republicans began hunting out priests, religious and faithful Catholics, the first to die were a number of Jesuits who were shot on the 21st July. The carnage continued for some days afterwards.
It seems a relative calm came, and as the priests, religious and Catholic faithful were rounded up they were imprisoned rather than slaughtered. The main city jail in Lleida, built to hold less than a hundred, was crammed full of over six hundred people, of which seventy-four were priests and religious. On the night of the 20th August 1936 a fateful decision was made by the republicans, and the priests and religious were herded onto trucks, chained to each other in group of ten. Among them were two of our friars, Fr Silveri of St Aloysius Gonzaga, a venerable friar of seventy-two (born Corroncuy, Lleida in 1864) and Fr Francesc of the Assumption (born in Montgay, Urgell in 1912). With them was Francesc's older brother, Pau (Pau Segala Sole, born in Montgay, Urgell in 1903), who was a priest of the diocese of Urgell. Driven out to a local cemetery, they were taken out and shot as their killers laughed and cheered at them.
These five form one Cause, and they will be among 524 martyrs beatified in a ceremony in Tarragona on the 13th October of this year.