Fr. Juan Elías Medina and 126 companions, who were martyred during the Spanish Civil War, were beatified this month in Córdoba.
“While he announces the hatred of the world to us, Jesus reminds us of his favorite love, the merciful love with which he has chosen us,” Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said during his homily at the Oct. 16 beatification Mass said in the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba.
“Death and life have fought in an amazing duel, the Lord of life conquers death. This consciousness animated our martyrs, many of whom when they were assassinated shouted, ‘Viva Cristo Rey!’” the cardinal preached.
Fr. Juan Elías Medina and his companions “is a group that puts before us a variety of human profiles,” he said.
"A richness and depth of spirituality, sometimes also with deep roots in theological sciences expressed in the multiplicity of daily experiences.”
"We are in front of a vision of history whose memory could become a place of evangelization within secularized contexts,” the cardinal noted.
The Spanish Civil War was fought from 1936 to 1939 between the Nationalist forces, led by Francisco Franco, and the Republican faction. During the war, Republicans martyred thousands of clerics, religious, and laity; of these, 11 have been canonized, and more than 2,000 beatified.
Of the group beatified in Cordoba, 79 were priests, 39 were laity, five were seminarians, and four were religious. Nearly all of them were imprisoned before being martyred.
Fr. Juan Elías Medina was arrested July 22, 1936, and in the months of his imprisonment he comforted and spiritually assisted those held with him. Together with 14 others, he was killed Sept. 25.
The youngest of those beatified Oct. 16 was Francisco García León, who was 15 at the time of his martyrdom.
The Diocese of Córdoba noted on its website that from a young age Francisco "showed signs of a life of special piety" and "stood out for his availability to collaborate with the Church and for exercising simple charity with the elderly and those most in need."
In July 1936 Francisco was “one of the few young people in town who attended Mass daily and received Communion. He always showed joy, politeness and decorum, even in these supremely difficult moments,” the diocese related.
On July 20, 1936, Republican forces arrived at Francisco's house to arrest his father. An hour later, they returned to arrest his uncle. It was then that they noticed that a scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was protruding from Francisco’s pocket.
Francisco was told to throw away his scapular, or be taken to jail. Francisco was arrested, and died July 22 when Republican militias massacred the prisoners in the barracks where he was being held.