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Catholic Heroes… The Martyrs Of Turon

October 4, 2016 saints No Comments


The complex roots of the Spanish Civil War (February 1936 to April 1939) sprouted many years before hostilities broke out. Little by little the Catholic Church had lost its influence and then it became a prime target for both the revolutionaries and the government.
Of Church personnel, those executed during the Spanish Civil War included 12 bishops; 283 religious sisters and nuns; 4,184 priests; 2,365 religious priests; and an unknown number of laypeople, according to a July 20, 2011 Our Sunday Visitor article by Russell Shaw.
Among the martyrs are the Nine Martyrs of Turon, whose feast is celebrated on October 9. Eight of them were Brothers of the Christian Schools and one was a Passionist priest: They were all arrested in the coal-mining area of Turon.
The oldest brother, Brother Cirilo Bertran (José Sanz Tejedor), was the superior for the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Born on March 20, 1888 in Lerma in the province of Burgos, his parents were poor laborers but they were rich in faith. As a result, he learned to be detached from worldly goods while leading a devout prayer life. His fortitude and joy remained with him until the day of his death.
A few months after his 17th birthday, José went to Bujedo where he entered the novitiate of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. As his formation ended, his many gifts, especially his piety and wisdom, led his superiors to entrust the school in Riotuerto and then the school of St. Joseph in Santander to his leadership.
In 1933 he transferred to his final assignment at Notre Dame School in Covadonga, Turon. Because of the increasing civil unrest, the other brothers were anxious and in need of his calm guidance. Quickly, he restored confidence in them.
During the summer of 1934 all directors of the Brothers of Christian Schools in northern Spain gathered for a month-long retreat at Valladolid. The main focus of their retreat was to prepare for martyrdom — something that would take place in just a few months.
Brother Marciano José (Filomeno Lopez Lopez) was born November 17, 1900 in Guadalajara to working-class parents who instilled in him the gift of industriousness. He entered the brothers’ novitiate in Bujedo in 1912. One of his uncles lived in Bujedo.
Although he was forced to leave because of premature deafness, the brothers accepted him back to be a serving brother and he made his first vows on July 8, 1919 and his final profession in July 1925. He was placed at Mieres.
In 1934, while he was in Mieres, another brother was designated to go to Turon. This brother was so frightened to go — because of the civil unrest — that Brother Marciano took his place. Shortly after Marciano arrived in Turon, he was martyred.
Brother Victoriano Pio (Claudio Bernabe Cano) was born and baptized the same day, on July 7, 1905 in Burgos. He also went to Bujedo for his novitiate, making his first vows in 1923. His love for music manifested itself in serving as a director of the choirs. He made his final vows on August 22, 1930.
Because of the sectarian laws which closed many Catholic schools, he was asked to move to Turon in 1934, where he met his martyrdom.
Brother Benjamin Julian (Vicente Alonso Andres) was also born in Burgos at Jaramillo de la Fuente on October 7, 1908. In 1920 he also went to Bujedo to join the brothers’ novitiate. Since he struggled with the academic side of his training, he had to extend his novitiate and did not make his first vows until May 15, 1926. Seven years later he made his final vows — on August 30, 1933.
His struggles continued in teaching but he persevered and eventually overcame them so successfully that when he was transferred to St. James Compostela, the families begged his superiors to let him stay. Then he obediently went to Turon where he also was arrested and died as a martyr.
Brother Hector came from Argentina where he was born on October 31, 1910, and baptized at St. Nicholas de Bari in Buenos Aires. His then returned to Spain to make a better living. After meeting the brothers he went to Lembecq-lez-Hal in Belgium to become a missionary brother in hopes he could return to Argentina.
However, they sent him first to Astorgo, Leon, and then to Turon in 1933, where he subsequently died for his faith.
Brother Aniceto-Adolfo (Manuel Seco Gutierrez) was the youngest of the Turon martyrs, born in 1912. Shortly after his birth in Celada Marlantes, his mother died. When he was 12 he went to Bujedo where two of his brothers also went. Sadly, his father also died before Aniceto-Adolfo made his first vows on February 2, 1930. Then he made his triennial vows in 1931 before completing his teaching degree in 1933.
He first taught at the Institute of Our Lady of Valladolid for one year before being assigned to Turon where he would make the ultimate witness for his faith in 1934.
Brother Augusto Andres (Roman Martinez Fernandez), the son of a Spanish soldier, was born on May 9, 1910 in Santander and grew up to be a young man fond of precision and order. His mother also raised him to be pious and sensitive to the needs of others. Although Roman yearned to join the brothers, his mother opposed it until he fell seriously ill.
Finally she relented and Brother Augusto became a religious highly esteemed by both his superiors and his fellow teachers and students. He made his first vows on the August 15, 1927; but before he could make his final vows, he was martyred in Turon.
Brother Julian-Alfredo (Vilfrido Fernandez Zapico), born on Christmas Eve in 1903 at Cifuentes de Rueda in Leon, became a pious youth. His parents began his holy instruction in life, but his mother died when he was very young. At that time, he went to live with his uncle, a priest who led him to a religious life.
In 1920 Vilfrido entered the Capuchin novitiate in Salamanca, but illness caused him to leave. Although he recovered and petitioned to be readmitted, he met the Brothers of the Christian Schools and ended up going to Bujedo where he entered their novitiate.
His first vows were made on August 15, 1927 with his final vows made on August 28, 1932. Two years later he died with his fellow brothers.
The final martyr of Turon was a Passionist priest who had come to hear the Confessions of the children before receiving Holy Communion on the First Friday of the month. Fr. Inocencio de la Inmaculada was born on March 10, 1887.
He entered the Passionist monastery at Pefiafiel in 1901, studying philosophy and theology at Deusto. He was ordained a priest in 1920.
For 14 years he traveled around Spain preaching sermons and giving retreats. When the brothers invited him to Turon, he generously agreed and went to Turon where he, along with the eight other brothers, died.
On October 5, 1934, soldiers stormed the school and arrested the nine men. The revolutionary committee, pressured by the Freemasons and the Communists, condemned the men to death. They were all killed on October 9, 1934. Pope John Paul II canonized these martyrs in 1999.

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(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

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