Spanish martyrs show victory of love over hate, says bishop

Madrid, Spain, Oct 16, 2013 / 12:10 pm (CNA).- The recent beatification of 522 Spanish martyrs of the 20th century is a testimony to the victory of God’s love, said a local bishop.

The beatification took place at an Oct. 13 ceremony in Tarragona. The 522 martyrs died during the religious persecution in Spain in the 1930s.

In a pastoral letter last week, Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba said that the Church honors her martyrs “because they were capable of showing the world the definitive victory of love over hatred.”

The bishop recalled the ten Carmelite religious from his diocese who were among the martyrs.  

“In addition to its good wine and oil, this land of Andalusia has these descendants who today honor us all, as the best sons of the Church and of this land,” he said.

The 522 martyrs “learned to love to the extreme, because when they were attacked and killed, they knew how to forgive as Christ did.”

These men and women did not die on the battlefield, but were sought after in their homes and convents and taken to the firing line because they were priests and religious, he observed.

“They were killed out of hatred for the faith.”

Bishop Fernandez described the martyrs’ beatification as a celebration of their great love.

This “historical memory” of the martyrs is not a political statement, he said, but rather aims to “sing the praises of God and encourage us to love and to forgive.”

“It is therefore a festival of glory and mercy,” he explained. “Once again we see that the last word does not belong to hatred and sin, but instead to the merciful love of God.”

Emphasizing the added importance of the beatifications during the current Year of Faith, Bishop Fernandez pointed to the words of the early Christian writer Tertullian: “The blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians.”

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