Martyr of Spanish Civil War to Be Beatified

María de los Ángeles Ginard Martí

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2005 (Zenit.org).- María de los Ángeles Ginard Martí, a martyr who died amid the religious persecution unleashed by the Spanish Civil War, will be beatified this week.

Sister María de los Ángeles died in Madrid on Aug. 26, 1936. On Saturday, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, will preside at the beatification Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

At Benedict XVI’s request, the cardinal will read the apostolic letter with which the Pope will inscribe among the blessed of the Church, the Servant of God, “virgin and martyr,” and seven other martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.

The Vatican’s office of liturgical celebrations confirmed the news. In a statement it noted that those to be beatified, “sustained by the Bread of Life and strengthened by the Word of God, faced the good fight of the faith and now participate in the glory of Christ the King, Master and Shepherd.”

The third of nine siblings, María de los Ángeles Ginard Martí was born in Lluchmayor, in the Balearic Islands, on April 3, 1894. She was a professed religious of the Congregation of Sisters Zealous of Eucharistic Worship.

Killed by a group of republican militiamen who previously had destroyed the congregation’s convent in the Dehesa de la Villa, in the Spanish capital, her remains were found in a common grave. They now rest in the cemetery of the congregation’s present convent in Madrid, according to the archdiocese’s Digital Analysis service.

Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, published a pastoral letter for the beatification. He called it a celebration that “impels us to live the faith in such a way that we can communicate it to our contemporaries, especially the youngest,” according to the archdiocesan press office.

Centered on Eucharist

María de los Ángeles Ginard Martí felt drawn to the religious life around the time of her first Communion, which took place on April 14, 1905, explains a biography by the Holy See.

In her youth she had to work to help her family financially, noted Cardinal Rouco.

“But she rose early every day to participate in the Eucharist,” he said, “and her work did not prevent her from reciting the rosary, visiting the Blessed Sacrament and spending long periods of adoration in the church of the Sisters Zealous of Eucharistic Worship.” She entered the congregation in 1921.

Between 1926 and 1929 “she lived and worked … in the house of the Sisters in Madrid where, sent by her superiors, she returned in 1932 and spent the four years prior to her death,” the cardinal recalled.

The Holy See’s biography noted: “When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, Sister María de los Ángeles was in Madrid. Events prior to the war were alarming for the Church and its members. The religious persecution manifested itself openly with the burning of churches and convents and threats to priests, religious and Catholic faithful.

“In these circumstances, Sister María de los Ángeles was grieved by the destruction and threats embarked upon by the persecutors ‘out of hatred for the faith,’ for everything related to God and the Church. In her adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament she prayed for a solution to these problems and, firm in the faith, offered her life in martyrdom, if it was God’s will, for the triumph of Christ.”

Betrayed

Having sought refuge on July 20, 1936, together with the religious of her community, in the home of friends, “on the afternoon of Aug. 25, 1936, denounced by a porter of the dwelling where she had been received, she was seized,” wrote Cardinal Rouco in his letter.

Sister María de los Ángeles saved the life of a married woman who had also been detained when she said: “I am the only nun here.” Incarcerated, she was shot at sunset on Aug. 26 in the Dehesa de la Villa in Madrid.

The diocesan phase of her process of canonization opened in Madrid in April 1987; it closed in March 1990. On April 19, 2004, Pope John Paul II approved the publication of the decree on martyrdom for her beatification.

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