VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2000 (ZENIT.org).-
John Paul II signed a decree today recognizing the martyrdom of 102 faithful during the 1930s religious persecution in Spain.
All the martyrs will be beatified March 11, along with an additional 116 martyrs accepted last year, and 15 approved on previous dates, bringing the total to 233.
The beatification of these martyrs will be the most numerous in the Church´s history, the episcopal vicar of Valencia in Rome, Bishop Vicente Carcel Orti, told the AVAN Catholic news agency. The 233 martyrs are equal to 20% of all the beatifications done during John Paul II´s 22-year pontificate, he added.
Among the future blesseds are 42 lay people from Valencia, which, according to that archdiocese, proves it was a “real religious persecution that went beyond priests and nuns.”
The Church in Spain estimates that 10,000 people died as a result of religious persecution during the Second Spanish Republic and the Civil War. All the martyrs recognized today were killed in 1936, during the first months of the Civil War. Promoters of the causes said the documentation runs more than 4,000 pages.