November 8 – Blessed Avelino Rodríguez and Companions

Priest and Martyr

Today we honor the memory of a group of 98 Augustinians of Spain, who were martyred during the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939. As is the case with all Christian martyrs, their death proclaims the strong conviction that eternal life is our ultimate goal, the price of which may even be our life on earth.

This vision, as well as the courage and love that marks the lives of martyrs, is an encouragement and stimulus for us who continue to make our pilgrimage amid the challenges and difficulties of life.

This group of 98 Augustinian martyrs represents friars from several communities of the Order in Spain who were the victims of religious persecution during the Spanish Civil War which lasted from 1936 to 1939. These 98 brothers of ours, together with 400 other martyrs of the war, were beatified in Saint Peter’s Square by the Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, on October 28, 2007.

The Augustinians declared blessed include 65 friars from the monastery of El Escorial together with the provincial, Avelino Rodríguez, and the Assistant General, Mariano Revilla, another 10 from the college-seminary of Uclés, 3 from Gijón, 6 from the school of Santander, 10 from the convent of Caudete, 4 from the community of Málaga. Among them were students in formation, pastors, lay brothers, professors, elderly and young religious. 

These 98 friars are among the first of the approximately 200 friars from the four Spanish provinces who died during the years of the civil war. Most were assassinated. Prior General Miguel Angel Orcasitas wrote in his letter on the occasion of the beatification of one of the martyrs, “It is still too soon to give a definitive historical judgment regarding the Spanish civil war, which created a stifling climate of struggle, reprisal and irreconcilable hatred. But there is no doubt about the existence of an authentic religious persecution, which fell upon the Church with unusual violence…the contrasting historical views cannot tarnish the validity of the personal testimony given by these brothers, who suffered persecution for Christ and accepted the consequences, even death itself. Their constancy is an undeniable spiritual inheritance.” (Blessed Anselmo Polanco, Letter….29 March 1995)