VATICAN CITY, MAR. 12, 2001 ( A day after the beatification of 233 martyrs of the 1930s Spanish religious persecution, John Paul II met in St. Peter´s Basilica with more than 10,000 pilgrims who came to Rome for the occasion.

The Pontiff greeted numerous relatives of the martyrs, who died amid the leftists´ anti-cleric campaign during the Spanish Civil War.

The Bishop of Rome noted that the martyrs came from all states of life, including single and married, and said, "Holiness is not just a privilege reserved for a few."

"The paths to holiness are many and they are experienced in the small concrete events of each day, by trying to turn every situation into an act of love," the Pope said. "This is what the new blessed martyrs did. Herein lies the secret of Christianity lived in fullness."

"Martyrdom is not a reality that belongs to the past, but also a reality of the present time," he said amid applause. "It is also true that every day the possibility arises of continuing to endure sufferings for the love of Christ."

Before bidding the pilgrims farewell, the Pope gave them a particular charge, in light of the martyrs´ example: "This is my wish: Promote the culture of life. Do it with words, but also with concrete actions. Be living and credible witnesses of love, unity and peace always and everywhere."

Including Sunday´s ceremony, John Paul II has beatified 471 Spanish martyrs of the 1930s persecution. The first beatifications took place March 29, 1987. The Spanish bishops´ conference reckons that 6,832 people were martyred during the civil war.