Carmelite Castilian Martyrs – Fr. Alberto Maria Marco Alemàn and 8 companions

Servants of God Fr. Alberto Maria Marco Alemàn and 8 companions
Carmelite Castilian Martyrs
Died: August 17, 1936

 
Fr. Alberto

Maria Marco
(Alberto Maria)

b. May 23, 1894

Age 42


Adalberto
Vicente y Vicente
(Adalberto Maria)
b. April 23, 1916

Age 20

  
Angelo
Reguilon Lobato
(Angelo Maria)
b. June 1, 1917
Age 19

 

Aurelio
Garcia Anton
(Aurelio Maria)
b. August 14, 1916
Age 20

Daniel
Garcia Anton
(Daniel Maria)
b. December 11, 1913
Age 22

 
Francisco
Perez y Perez
(Francisco Maria)
b. January 30, 1917
Age 19

  
Jose
Sanchez Rodriguez
(Angel Maria)
b. August 2, 1918
Age 18

  

Nicomedes
Andres Vecilla
(Bartolome Fanti Maria)
b. August 26, 1917
Age 18


Silvano
Villanueva Gonzalez
(Silvano Maria)
b. February 6, 1916
Age 20

  

 

See “Profiles in Holiness Volume 3” by Redemptus Valabek for more information and individual biographies of these martyrs.

 The Spanish Civil War (The Red Terror) raged from July 17, 1936 to April 1, 1939.  Especially in the early months of the conflict, individual clergymen and entire religious communities were executed by leftists, which included communists and anarchists. Society at the time had a low esteem for priests and religious, and the government was bent on eliminating religion. The death toll of the clergy alone included 13 bishops, 4,172 diocesan priests and seminarians, 2,364 monks and friars and 283 nuns, for a total of 6,832 clerical victims.  In addition to murders of clergy and the faithful, destruction of churches and desecration of sacred sites and objects were widespread.  The terror has been called the “most extensive and violent persecution of Catholicism in Western History.

 Fr. Alberto Maria Marco Alemàn, superior of the Ayala Carmelite house in Madrid and his eight companions from the “El Carmen” Onda monastery in Castellòn, Spain were a few of the first of these martyrs.  During the first week of the war, on July 20, 1936, with the sounds of gunfire and canons closing in, a telephone call warned the Ayala community that like the other friar’s residences, their house would be sacked and the religious evicted.  Fr. Alberto urged everyone to be resigned to the Will of God, and to dress in civilian clothes.  He had arranged for his community to be secretly housed by friendly families.  Fr. Alberto grew a mustache, wore civilian clothes and obtained student documents in his efforts to hide from the soldiers. 

 When his refuge was surrounded by soldiers Fr. Alberto was able to escape to another house, the Aguilars, two aging sisters and a housemaid, Jose fa Amas.  Here he was able to celebrate Mass and share his religious schedule with them.  It appears that a neighbor turned him in to authorities.  When the soldiers found Fr. Alberto, they ransacked the house, destroyed all religious objects and arrested the sisters, the housemaid and Fr. Alberto.  The women and housemaid were released, but Fr. Alberto was told he would be released only if he denounced his religious status.  He refused and was subsequently imprisoned at General Porlier Prison.

 In the prison, Fr. Alberto made friends of all the prisoners there, heard confessions, and raised the spirits of his fellow prisoners, praying the rosary slowly with them while one of them stood guard.  On November 23, 1936, Fr. Alberto’s health deteriorated rapidly and he was ordered to ready himself for a nighttime transfer which everyone knew was the death sentence.  Fr. Alberto made a final round in his cell, touching the bedstead of each fellow prisoner as a sign of farewell.  To his close friend Jesus Sanchez, he simply said: “Goodbye forever, and pray for me… Let God’s Will be done.  Goodbye.”

 No one has come forward to admit being present at the actual shooting of Fr. Alberto, but with his midnight ‘transfer’ out of the prison, his history ends.  His brother Luis and his friend Jesus Sanchez tried to find his body, but failed, being faced with a common grave containing up to 17,000 bodies.

 The other eight martyrs were students at the Onda Carmelite monastery in Castellòn with 22 others.  On July 24th, 1936 in the midst of their public Novena in honor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel,  they were ordered to stop the public Novena.  They obeyed and continued behind closed doors.  On the 26th, they were warned they were in danger, and the Red troops doused the monastery door with gasoline in a failed attempt to burn the monastery down. 

 

At 5am on July 27th a large group of armed soldiers gained access to the monastery ordering the house to be evacuated within the hour, by the front door only.  One student escaped out the back and was fired on by a Red sentinel, who somehow missed him.  The 21 others received Holy Communion, sang the “Hail Holy Queen” and dressed in civilian clothes headed to Valencia by train; some 80km (48 miles).
Although they had been given a ‘safe-conduct pass’ to protect them until they reached their destination, at each train stop, crowds of guards and sympathizers menaced them, shots were sometimes fired in their direction.  The friars remained silent.  Finally, a group of miners on the train looked after and protected them, gave them some food.  Some of the 21 friars were able to get away so that only 12 reached Madrid where soldiers searched them and put them in the Social Assistance Center.  Two of the students had family in Madrid and were permitted to leave to stay with their families and survived the war.  Another, Fr. Isidoro Garrido somehow got separated from the group, and miraculously found an aunt in Madrid, whose address he didn’t know, and spent the rest of the war with her.  
 

 

After eight days at the Social Center destined for beggars and homeless, the remaining 8 were moved to the Institute for the Blind in Carabanchel Bajo.  They only stayed there for four days but made quite an impression on the residents there, who later spoke of their charity, and desire to serve them by reading to them or helping with the daily duties. 
On August 17th, at midnight, they were taken away to a nearby cemetery and unceremoniously shot.  Their bodies were left where they fell, and the next morning, a woman passing by, noticed that one of the youngsters was not dead but was piteously dragging himself away.  Evidence suggests this was Fray Bartolomè Maria, just 19 years old.  She reported it to one of the soldiers, who ended his suffering with another shot.

 

For most of August 18th their bodies remained exposed for all to see.  A doctor was called to make out their death certificates and their clothing was removed.  They remained exposed nude until the Order came and buried the 8 young men in two narrow tombs along with two other executed men in the cemetery where they were killed.  Their remains were found in 1950 and transferred to the Carmelite Marian shrine in the city of El Henar, where they are honored in a cloister niche.
 

 

 

 Last content update 01/16/2011  

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