Beatified By: Pope John Paul II
The group of martyrs of Almeria Spain, includes the Bishop of that city, the Bishop of Guadix and seven Brothers of the Christian Schools who worked in the educational apostolate at St Joseph College in Almeria.
Their names are: Bishop DIEGO VENTAJA MILAN of Almeria, Bishop MANUEL MEDINA OLMOS of Guadix, Bro. AURELIO MARIA from Zafra de Zancara, Bro. JOSE CECILIO from Molina de Ubierna, Bro. EDMIGIO from Adalia, Bro. AMALIO from Salinas de Oro, Bro. VALERIO BERNARDO from Porquera de los Infantes, Bro. TEODOMIRO JOAQUIN from Puntedey and Bro. EVENCIO RICARDO from Viloria de Rioja.
The two Bishops and seven Christian Brothers died for the faith in 1936, a few weeks after the outbreak of the Civil War that ravaged Spain for almost three years. The Revolutionary Committee of Almeria decided to imprison anyone suspected of not supporting the revolution, particularly priests and religious.
On 22 July 1936, several persons came to St Joseph College and took the brothers they found there into custody. During their imprisonment they were a model for the other prisoners, encouraging them to have continual recourse to God.
On the night of 30-31 August, Brothers Edmigio, Amalio and Valerio Bernardo were executed; Brothers Teodomiro Joaquin and Evencio Ricardo on 8 September; and on the night of 12-13 September, Brothers Aurelio Maria, the director of the college, and Bro. Jose Cecilio. The attitude of Bro. Aurelio Maria, expressed a few years before he confirmed his faith with martyrdom, reveals the generosity that motivated these religious: "What happiness for us if we could shed our blood for the lofty ideal of Christian education. Let us double our fervour and thus become worthy of such an honour".
The last days of Bishop Diego Ventaja Milan of Almeria and Bishop Manuel Medina of Guadix were intertwined with those of the Christian Brothers imprisoned with them. On the night of 29-30 August 1936, they were taken out to the place of execution with 15 other prisoners. Bishop Medina asked permission to speak and, according to an eyewitness, said: "We have done nothing to deserve death, but I forgive you so that the Lord will also forgive us. May our blood be the last shed in Almeria".
These exemplary Bishops always showed pastoral concern for all their people and tirelessly traveled throughout their Dioceses to strengthen and deepen their brothers' and sisters' faith at a truly difficult time. Bishop Ventaja was given several opportunities to flee the war zone, but despite repeated requests, he said again and again that he had to remain with his flock.
Biogrpahy Provided By: EWTN
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