Pope Francis has officially recognized 115 Catholics who were killed during the Spanish Civil War out of hatred of the faith.
The newest martyrs are Servants of God José Álvarez Benavides y de la Torre, Spanish dean of the Cathedral Chapter of Almería, and his 114 companions. They were killed between 1936 and 1938 during Spain’s brutal civil war.
The June 14 recognition means that they are considered “Blesseds” in the eyes of the Church, one grade below saints. The decree came from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
In addition, Pope Francis also recognized the heroic virtues of seven Catholics who will now be known by the title “Venerable.”
These are Anton Cyril Stojan (1851-1923), the Archbishop of Olomuc in what is now the Czech Republic; Vicente Garrido Pastor (1896-1975), the Spanish diocesan priest who founded the Secular Institute of Workers of the Cross; Mexican priest Pablo María Guzmán Figuero (1897-1967), a member of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and founder of the Eucharistic Missionaries of the Holy Trinity; Luigi Lo Verde (1910-1932), an Italian professed cleric of the Friars Minor Conventual; Bernardo of the Annunciation (1902-1932), a Portuguese professed cleric of the Order of St. Benedict; María Elisea Oliver Molina (1869-1931), the Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Virgin of Mount Carmel; and Mary of the Merciful Love of Jesus (1899-1973), the Mexican founder of the Guadalupan Handmaids of Christ the Priest.
Thousands of Catholics were killed during Spain’s civil war, and hundreds have been recognized as martyrs.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI beatified nearly 500 victims of religious persecution who were killed before and during Spain’s civil war. These included two bishops, 24 priests, 462 members of religious orders, a deacon, a sub-deacon, a seminarian, and seven lay Catholics. Collectively their ages ranged from 16 to 71. It was one of the largest mass beatifications in history.
In April 2011, Pope Benedict approved the beatifications of 22 martyrs from the period. In October 2013, another 522 martyrs from the Spanish Civil War era were beatified.