Reading about heroes makes me always wonder
what happened to my life. How can I continue
to live such a mediocre drab life?!
Bartolome Blanco Marquez was one of the youngest
of the group of 498 martyrs who were killed
during the bloody Spanish civil war (1936-1939)
and beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in October
2007. A loyal Catholic, this 22 year-old
young man wrote a moving letter to his girlfriend
Maruja just hours before his death. "Your
memory will go with me to the tomb, and as
long as my heart is beating, it will beat
with love for you. God has desired to exalt
these earthly affections, ennobling them
when we love each other in Him."
Bartolome was born in Pozoblanco, Spain on
November 25, 1914. Orphaned as a child, he
was raised by his aunt and uncle and worked
as a chair maker. He was a good student at
the Salesian school and also helped out as
a catechist. At the age of 18 he was elected
secretary of a youth division of Catholic
Action in the same town.
An anticlerical persecution was going on
throughout Spain at the time. Because he
was such an active member of the Church,
on August 18, 1936, he was arrested when
he was on leave from military service. On
September 24 he was moved to a prison in
Jaen, where he was held with fifteen priests
and other laymen. "It is pleasant to
prepare for death surrounded by fifteen priests!"
There he was put on trial, condemned to death
and shot on October 2, 1936.
During his trial, Bartolome remained firm.
"My indictment in the court of men will
be my best defense in the court of God! They
wanted to humiliate me - they have only managed
to ennoble me!"
What touched me deeply however were the letters
he wrote on the eve of his death to his family
and to his girlfriend Maruja.
"May this be my last will: forgiveness,
forgiveness, forgiveness; yes, compassion,
which I wish to be accompanied by doing to
them as much good as possible. Therefore,
I ask you to 'revenge' me with the retribution
of a Christian by returning good to those
that have tried to do me evil," he wrote
to his relatives.
"I only have a few hours to live",
he wrote to Maruja. "I ask you, my dear,
just one thing. In memory of the love between
us, which during this time in jail has increased
tremendously, make sure you make your primary
goal the salvation of your soul. In that
way, we shall be able to meet again in heaven
for all eternity, where nothing and no one
will separate us."
"Until then, Maruja of my soul! I shall
watch over you from heaven! Do not forget
me, dear. May my memory remind you always
of the better life that is awaiting us. Desire
On the day of his execution he left his cell
barefoot, in order to be more conformed to
Christ. He kissed his handcuffs, surprising
the guards that cuffed him. He refused to
be shot from behind. "Whoever dies for
Christ should do so facing forward and standing
straight. Long live Christ the King!"
he shouted as he fell to ground under a shower
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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