Beatification of 522 Martyrs in Tarragona (Spain), October 13, 2013.
On the afternoon of October 11th, we began our pilgrimage, starting from Torrente, Valencia to Tarragona, where we would attend the beatification of 522 Spanish martyrs. Seven sisters and five girls began the trip and we later met up with seven more girls from Barcelona and one from Zaragoza.
We reached Salou, a town close to Tarragona, in time to eat supper and go to sleep. We stayed in the apartment of one of the girls who generously let us use it for this encounter. It was all providential, because up until two weeks beforehand, we did not know where we were going to stay. But Our Mother arranged it all very well. We put it in the hands of the martyrs and it all worked out better than what we had imagined. The ideal place, wonderful weather, the sea right next to us...what more could we ask for?
The next morning, October 12th, the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar, we went to the local parish that, providentially, had a chapel dedicated to "la Pilarica" and there they were going to have a floral offering. Obviously, it was not the same as being in Zaragoza (where there is a shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Pillar), but there was a large crowd, even with their traditional dresses, who did not forget about Our Lady. From there we went to the beach to pray Laudes facing the Mediterranean Sea and then we stayed a little longer, playing on the beach. Later on, the other group of girls came from Barcelona, making a total of 13 girls and 7 sisters.
We returned to the apartment to have an informal meeting, introducing ourselves and explaining what a martyr is, what a beatification is, and what martyrdom means. We spoke of how, even though the Lord does not call us to give up our life with a red martyrdom, we should still live our faith as martyrs, as Father Rafael has told us so many times. At the end of the meeting, everyone picked out a piece of paper from a bag that had the name of one of the martyrs written on it and it briefly explained his life and martyrdom. Each one took on the Blessed that she had picked out as her protector saint.
When they had learned some facts about the martyrs, we put the girls to the test with a game about the martyrs. In two separate teams, the girls had to find in the surrounding area a piece of paper with numbers that corresponded to different trials. Once they won the trials, they received a paper with the groups of martyrs of each diocese, that they had to glue to a map of Spain. It was very fun, and sometimes difficult, to overcome the trials.
Afterwards it was time to eat, and we also had to celebrate Sr. Zdenka's birthday, so had a birthday party and cake. She told us her conversion and vocation story, and we remained there talking about the vocation, our martyrs and the Christian life. After lunch, we went to the beach again to pray the rosary and sing songs, and later we attended Mass in the parish.
Back at home, one group of the girls had to study a little, some prepared supper, and the rest went outside to play games until supper. After supper we played some more and this led into a meeting about the perseverance and abandonment in the hands of God. We finished the day with a "Good Night" talk about heaven. An exciting day awaited us.
We headed out early in the morning on the 13th, although we were only 10 minutes away from the place of the beatification. We had to wait a while for the celebration, and this helped to prepare us to live it the best way possible. During this time we read the testimonies of some of the martyrs, sang songs, and there were also readings of the Word of God. Before Mass, they connected with the Vatican where the Holy Father spoke to all. This is what he said:
"Dear brothers and sisters:
I would like to express my heartfelt participation in the celebration taking place in Tarragona in which a great number of pastors, consecrated persons and lay faithful are being proclaimed Blessed martyrs.
Who are the martyrs? They are Christians won over by Christ, disciples who have understood fully the path to that “love to the extreme limit” that led Jesus to the Cross. There is no such thing as love in consignments or in portions. Total love: and when one loves truly, one loves to the very end. On the Cross, Jesus felt the weight of death, the weight of sin, but He entrusted Himself entirely to the Father, and He forgave. He barely uttered a word, but He gave His life. Christ precedes and awaits us in love; the martyrs imitated Him in loving to the very end.
The Holy Fathers say, 'Imitate the martyrs!' It is always necessary to die a little in order to come out of ourselves, to leave behind our selfishness, our comfort, our laziness, our sadness, and to open ourselves to God, and to others, especially those most in need.
We implore the intercession of the martyrs in order to be true Christians, Christians not only in words but in deeds; so as not to be mediocre Christians, Christians painted with a superficial gloss of Christianity but without substance; the martyrs were not glossed and painted Christians, they were were Christians to the very end. Let us ask their help to stay firm in faith, in spite of difficulties, and let us too nurture hope and be architects of brotherhood and solidarity.
And I ask you to pray for me. May Jesus bless them and the Holy Virgin protect them”.
It was a beautiful Mass. Everything was well done, and the celebration was carried out with solemnity and joy. All who were present were very happy and very thankful to the volunteers, who truly carried out an outstanding service. From there, the group separated, because our encounter was now coming to a close.
It was all a grace from the Lord. We entrust ourselves to the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the martyrs, asking her to help us to live as they lived. And as the Bishop of Tarragona said: “This beatification ceremony should be a great manifestation of faith. The example of our martyrs should serve as a strong impulse for our Christian life. May we, like them, know how to give witness of Christ, forgive our enemies and always seek peace and harmony".
- Servant Sisters of Torrent, Valencia (Spain)