VALENCIA, Spain, MAR. 9, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Among the pilgrims who will be in St. Peter´s Square this Sunday for the beatification of 233 martyrs of the 1930s religious persecution in Spain, is José María Torres Pérez, son of one of the new blesseds.
He remembers his father getting into a dark car, outside his home, and his mother, in the background, crying to the militiamen, “Please don´t take him.”
José was 8 at the time. He had just returned from buying soda water for his father, who that night had suffered nephritic colic. It took less than a day for him to hear the news that his father, Pascual Torres Lloret of Carcaixent, had been killed.
That was September 1936. Sixty-five years later — and despite the pain he lived through at the time — José María Torres says, “Martyrdom is a gift and blessing from heaven. It is something that people without faith cannot understand, no matter how much you explain it.”
His father was a work foreman. Asked why his father was killed, he said: “Because he was a Christian. My father was a man of prayer and daily Communion. He was authorized to give Communion, and did so in the parish and later, secretly, in the homes of the sick.”
Torres continued: “One was persecuted if one went to Communion. I remember he hid the Hosts in a cloth napkin, which he left inside a purifier. On one occasion, this piece of cloth made it possible to have our father with us a bit longer [so to speak], because the Hosts, which were well wrapped, did not scatter after being handled by one of the militiamen, who dug through our belongings in search of money.”
Is it possible to forgive? Torres answered unhesitatingly: “When I go to heaven, I would like to meet all my father´s killers.” In heaven, he said, he would repeat his forgiveness to them.
“Everything that has happened, the tragedy we have lived through, has helped us to mature,” said Torres, who is now a catechist for married couples in Valencia´s St. Thomas Parish.
José Torres also mentioned his mother, whose memory is very present to him. “She was very happy, accepted everything,” he recalled. “She was very affected when she heard the tragic news of his death. It was my eldest sister who told us that my father had been killed that night. She found out when she went to the prison in the morning to take him something to eat. From then on, my mother suffered from partial paraplegia.”
Torres is in Rome with his brother, wife and three children for the beatifications.