Dominican Saints 101: Bl. Hyacinth Serrano Lopez and Companions
September 21, 2012
Before the movie For Greater Glory came out this past summer, many Catholics had no idea that there could be martyrs in a predominantly Catholic country. That movie opened eyes to the reality of the persecution the Church underwent at the hands of secular authorities. The Dominican martyrs commemorated on September 22 have the same effect. Bl. Hyacinth Serrano Lopez and his 17 companions were martyred in the Spanish Civil War in the years 1934-1939. Bl. Pope John Paul II beatified them, and 215 others, in 2001. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI, in the largest single beatification ever, beatified 498 martyrs from the Spanish Civil War, including 74 Dominicans. In this latter group are a former Master of the Order, Bl. Bonaventure Garcia Paredes, and the first beatified martyred Dominican nun, Bl. Josefina Sauleda Paulis. While September 22nd is not officially the feast day on the Dominican calendar of Bl. Bonaventure and his companions, it seems appropriate to remember them on the feast of Bl. Hyacinth and his companions. The 92 Dominican martyrs of the Spanish Civil included priests and lay brothers, student brothers and a novice, a nun and sisters, and even two third order laity. Among them, Bl. Bonaventure Garcia Paredes shows a particularly beautiful witness. He spent his last months hiding from the communists while trying to hear confessions and say Mass. When he was finally captured, he said:
I have committed no crime except that of being a priest and a religious; Divine Providence so wants.
Bl. Josefina Sauleda Paulis also gave a heroic witness. Years after entering the Dominican cloistered monastery in Barcelona, she began to have a desire for prayer. When the persecution of the Church began, her prayer began to be answered. Eventually, she was captured and interogated by the communist authorities. As they were about to take her away, she said the folllowing:
If you are going to kill me, why don’t you do it right here?
At dawn the next day, she received the answer to the prayer for which she had prayed for years and even more fervently the night before. She was martyred, and her body was found outside the Hippodrome in Barcelona. These two blesseds, among the 731 beatified in 2001 and 2007, show the great grace that the Lord provides to those whom He specially chooses to follow His path to Calvary. In the beatification homily of Bl. Bonaventure Garcia Paredes and his companions, Pope Benedict said this:
Adding such a great number of martyrs to the list of beatified persons shows that the supreme witness of giving blood is not an exception reserved only to some individuals, but a realistic possibility for all Christian people. It includes men and women of different ages, vocations and social conditions, who pay with their lives in fidelity to Christ and his Church.
Almighty ever-living God, who gave Blesseds Hyacinth Serrano Lopez and Bonaventure Garcia Paredes and their companions the grace of suffering for Christ, come, in your divine mercy, we pray, to the help of our own weakness, that, as your Saints did not hesitate to die for your sake, we, too, may live bravely in confessing you. Through Christ our Lord.