Blessed Juvenal Ancina (1545–1604)

John Juvenal Ancina was born at Fossano on 19th October, 1545. He studied at Montpellier, Padua, Mondovì and Turin, and graduated in both medicine and philosophy. He was also an accomplished man of letters and a musician of some note. In 1574 Juvenal moved to Rome and attended the theology lectures of Cardinal (later Saint) Robert Bellarmine, and joined in the spiritual exercises at the Oratory. On 1st October, 1578, he entered the Oratory and was ordained priest on 9th June, 1582 and after that dedicated himself entirely to the Oratorian apostolate, for which his many natural talents so well equipped him. In 1586 Juvenal was sent to Naples to help the newly founded Oratory there and he threw himself into many different activities. He quickly gained a reputation as a fine preacher. He also used his musical talents to help the growth of popular piety – especially remembered is his ‘Tempio Armonico della Beatissima Vergine’, a collection of spiritual songs for three, five, eight and twelve voices. Juvenal helped to develop many other cultural interests in Naples and involved in this work of the Oratory many of the great aristocratic families. Through the ‘Oratorio dei Principi’ he helped to bring Catholic standards into the lives of many influential people. In the autumn of 1596 Juvenal was recalled to Rome, where Pope Clement VIII told him he had decided to make him Bishop of Saluzzo, in the north of Italy, where the inroads of the heretics were giving cause for concern. Juvenal had misgivings, and it was not until August, 1602 that he accepted the nomination as Bishop: he took possession of his diocese on 6th March. 1603. Juvenal’s time as Bishop was very short because he died of a suspected poisoning on 30th August, 1604 – crying out as he died ‘Sweet Jesus and Mary, give peace to my soul’. His brief episcopate was nevertheless a fruitful one and was marked by many initiatives designed to help his people grow in piety and charity. Within a month of entering his diocese he began the work of reforming the lives of both clergy and laity. He sought to combat heresy, convoked a Synod to implement the decrees of the Council of Trent, announced the founding of a Seminary, and organised devotions to increase adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He also placed great emphasis on the instructing of the faithful in the teachings of the Church and introduced the use of the Catechism. People soon came to hold him in high regard – not least his next-door neighbour, the Bishop of Geneva, Francis de Sales, who appreciated his humble and peace-loving character. Juvenal’s body rests in Saluzzo Cathedral, under an altar dedicated to him. He was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 9th February, 1890, and his feast is kept each year on 30th August. Blessed Juvenal Ancina, pray for us!

Blessed Antony Grassi (1592–1671)

Antony Grassi was born at Fermo in the Marche of Italy on 13th November, 1592. From his earliest days he led a simple and austere life, frequenting he church of the Oratory in his home town. He entered the Congregation of Fermo on 11th October, 1609, and was ordained priest on 17th December, 1617. Antony exercised his priestly ministry in instructing the ignorant, comforting the weak, visiting the sick and imprisoned, helping the troubled and encouraging youth in the ways of holiness. In the Holy Year of 1625 he went as a pilgrim to Rome and visited with great devotion the basilicas and catacombs. An especial highlight would have been his visit to S. Philip’s shrine and the places associated with the Saint’s life. Because of Antony’s apostolic life and his great love for the Oratory his community elected him as their Superior in 1635 and he was to hold that office for the rest of his life. He was a man of deep prayer and was privileged to receive many mystical experiences. People sought his advice, especially through the confessional. It was here, he said, that the priest should always show compassion and seek above all to help and comfort the repentant sinner. Antony was called ‘The Angel of Peace’ because of the gift he had of reconciling enemies. He was also called ‘The Father of the Poor’, because he continually gave away all his possessions, even his clothes, to those in need. He cultivated a great devotion to Our Lady – the ‘Mother of our House’, as he called her – and on numerous occasions went on pilgrimage to Her shrine at Loreto. It was here, on 4th September, 1621, that he survived being struck by lightning – his clothes were all burnt, but he himself was unscathed. Popes Clement X and Innocent XI held him in the highest regard, as did the Oratorian Cardinal Colloredo, who was to be responsible for beginning the Process for his beatification.As his end drew near, he repeated continually to the members of his community: ‘What a beautiful thing it is to die as a son of S. Philip.’ Surrounded by his loving brethren and with the Archbishop of Fermo present, he died on 13th December, 1671. His reputation for holiness, evident during his lifetime, grew rapidly after his death, and devotion to him spread through Italy and Germany and many miracles were reported through his intercession. Antony was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on 30th September, 1900. Since 1966 his body has rested under the High Altar of the Carmelite Church in Fermo. His feast is kept each year on 15th December. Blessed Antony Grassi, pray for us!

Blessed Sebastian Valfrè (1629-1710)

Sebastian Valfrè is one of the most important members of the Piedmontese clergy, and the forerunner of the many Saints who have graced the Church of Turin in recent centuries. Sebastian was born at Verduno, in the Diocese of Alba, on 9th March, 1629. His family was poor, but despite hardships and difficulties he managed to follow a course of studies at Alba, Bra and finally Turin. He joined the Oratory of Turin on 26th May, 1651, and was ordained priest on 24th February, 1652. He gained his doctorate in theology in 1656. He went on to hold many of the offices at the Oratory and, although he declined being made Archbishop of his city, he nevertheless, through his tireless work, is honoured as the Apostle of Turin. His particular concerns were the teaching of the Catechism, hearing confessions, giving spiritual direction, helping the poor and the sick, widows, orphans and prisoners. Sebastian became confessor to the Piedmontese Royal Family and his influence at Court enabled him to do much for the poor of the city. He was greatly devoted to the Shroud of Turin, and there is a print in existence, showing him supervising some repair work being done to the Shroud. During his years in Turin the Kingdom endured several wars, including a siege of the city. He organised practical aid for the soldiers – so much so that today he is invoked as the patron of military chaplains. He introduced to Turin the Forty Hours Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, and encouraged devotion to Our Lady, inspiring King Victor Amadeus II to build the Basilica of Superga. Sebastian also helped in the founding of the Accademia at Rome, for the training of Papal diplomats. He is remembered, too, in difficult times, for striving to build up good relations with both Protestants and Jews in Piedmont.The Archives of the Turin Oratory possess some 22 volumes of his writings. One of his most important works was his ‘Compendium of Christian Doctrine’, a catechism organised on a question and answer basis. This rapidly became a well-used teaching aid, and lasted until the introduction of the Catechism of Pope Pius X.‘The Father who had Paradise in his eyes’ died at Turin on 30th January, 1711, and was beatified by Pope Gregory XVI on 31st August, 1834. His body rests in a silver shrine in the Oratory Church in Turin. His feast is kept each year on 30th January. Blessed Sebastian Valfrè, pray for us!

Saint Joseph Vaz (1651–1711)

Joseph Vaz was born on 21st April, 1651, in the village of Benaulim in the territory of Goa, then the capital of the Portuguese colonies in the Far East. He received his basic education within the family, but then went to college – to the Jesuits to study humanities; to the Dominicans to study theology. Joseph was ordained priest in 1676 and after a period of almost free-lance work, was invited by the Patriarch of Goa to work at Kanara, where he remained for some years, distinguishing himself by his pastoral zeal. He returned to Goa, and in 1686, with some other priests, started an Oratory, receiving the necessary information and help from the Congregations in Portugal. In April, 1687, however, he went as a missionary to the island of Ceylon (today Sri Lanka). He arrived incognito at Jaffna and remained on the island for 24 years, fulfilling his apostolate in very difficult circumstances – having to travel and celebrate the sacraments at night, always in disguise, and being constantly pursued by the Dutch Calvinist authorities, who sought to put an end to his single-handed attempt to keep the Catholic faith alive on the island. His work was blessed with success and he succeeded in strengthening the faith of many, comforting the suffering and the persecuted. Joseph decided to make his base in the Kingdom of Kandy, in the island’s interior, but on arrival was arrested as a spy and put in prison. He was released after having prayed for and obtained a miraculous fall of rain, so ending a prolonged drought. After that the King of Kandy gave him his personal protection. In 1696 the Oratory Fathers of Goa began to arrive on the island and so a properly constituted mission was established. Joseph refused the position of Vicar Apostolic. Preferring to remain a humble missionary, continuing his unstinting work for the people. He translated into Singalese and Tamil, (the local languages), various prayers and a catechism.On 16th January, 1711, he knew he was dying. He asked for and received the Last Rites and his faithful followers gathered around his bed. ‘Always live according to God’s inspiration,’ he told them. At midnight, holding a candle in his hand, he pronounced the holy name of ‘Jesus’ with great clarity and fervour, and, commending his soul into his Saviour’s hands, he died. He left a marvellous legacy: 70,000 Catholics, 15 churches and 400 chapels.The people called him ‘Sammanasu Swam’ – the Angelic Priest. Joseph’s character and talents made him an efficacious instrument of Divine Providence at a critical moment in the missionary history of S.E. Asia. His successes during his lifetime brought him to the attention of the Church authorities in both Portugal and Rome. After his death his example and methods of apostolic work made him a continuing inspiration for the missionary priests of his adopted island and beyond.Unfortunately the exact whereabouts of his remains is uncertain. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 21st June, 1995, and his feast is kept each year on 16th January. Saint Joseph Vaz, pray for us!

Saint Luigi Scrosoppi (1804–1884)

Aloysius Dominic Scrosoppi (always known as Luigi) was born on August 4th, 1804 in the town of Udine in northeast Italy. His father was a prosperous goldsmith, Domenico Scrosoppi, and his mother was called Antonia Aloisia Lazzarini. The family was staunchly Catholic and produced vocations: three of the sons were to become priests. Luigi’s mother had been married before, and by her first marriage had had two sons, Carlo and Giovanni Battista Filaferro. Carlo, Luigi’s elder half-brother, was to have a great influence over the life of the future Saint, as a spiritual guide and mentor. In 1806 Carlo Filaferro entered the Congregation of the Oratory in Udine. This Oratorian house had been founded in 1650 and served the church of S. Maria Maddalena (now demolished – the Central Post Office occupies its site). Carlo was ordained priest in 1809, but the following year the Congregation was suppressed, and the twelve Fathers and three Brothers were expelled from their house and church. We need to remember that this was the age of Napoleon and of short-lived revolutionary governments – a time of difficulty for the Church, when so much of the cultural, spiritual and material heritage of Catholic Europe was wrecked. It was on the orders of the Napoleonic regime in northern Italy that the Oratory was suppressed. F. Carlo returned to live with his mother, stepfather and their children, and probably taught the little ones their first lessons in the Faith.Peace returned to Italy in 1814, and in the years that followed the young Luigi became more and more convinced of his own priestly vocation. In 1817 he became an external student at the Archdiocesan Seminary in Udine and was conspicuously successful, with a brilliant academic record. He was ordained priest on March 31st, 1827, the Saturday before Passion Sunday, in Udine Cathedral, and said his first Mass the following day in the old Oratory Church of S. Maria Maddalena. The former

Oratory practices and devotions continued. Luigi brought to his priestly work a character both forceful and concentrated, and although he was both clever and articulate, he was never given to self-expression or the vaunting of his own merits. He soon became involved with his half-brother, Carlo, in helping to run the ‘Casa delle Derelitte’, an orphanage for girls, situated close to the Oratory Church. The orphanage had been founded in 1816 by F. Gaetano Salomoni, from the suppressed Oratory of Mantova, a town in the Po Valley, halfway between Bologna and Brescia. By the end of 1817 there were some forty girls and women there and F. Carlo had joined the work. F. Luigi worked hard for these destitutes, and a series of bad harvests meant he had to devote much time to begging in the streets and shops to obtain food for the girls’ supper. Perhaps this experience was the cause of the desire he expressed at this time to become a Capuchin Friar; more difficulties, including an outbreak of cholera, led him to abandon such hopes. A new house was obtained and a steady supply of money put things on a better footing. By 1840, F. Luigi was the guiding light of the institute. At the same time, he began to lay the foundations for other such houses for poor girls, children and deaf-mutes. He recruited several schoolmistresses to help him in his work – these soon decided on becoming nuns. On Christmas Day, 1845, fifteen of them received the habit and were constituted as a religious congregation, known as The Sisters of Providence, under the patronage of S. Gaetano.Whilst these developments were taking place, there were also moves to re-establish the Oratory in Udine. The first, unofficial, regrouping took place in 1842, and in 1846 the Oratory was formally reopened, with the surviving Fathers from the suppression of 1810 returning to their house and church. F. Carlo was elected Provost and held the position until his death in 1854. F. Luigi received the Oratorian habit and began to devote much of his time to the Christian formation of the working- and student-youth of Udine. During the revolution of 1848 he worked tirelessly amongst the wounded.In 1856, F. Luigi was elected Provost of the Oratory and found himself the superior of a group of six priests. Soon after his election the fortunes of the Udine Oratory took a turn for the worse, and as there were no local vocations, Fathers were lent from other houses in order to support all the works that were going on.The advent of Italian unification in the 1860s and the arrival of an anti-clerical government resulted in the passing of a law suppressing all religious congregations. This was a death-blow for many Italian Oratories. F. Luigi fought fiercely against the application of this law, and although he managed to preserve the Sisters of Providence, the Udine Oratory was suppressed in 1867. This was the end of Luigi’s community life as an Oratorian, but not the end of his devotion to S Philip and the Oratory. He maintained Oratorian principles and practices to the end of his life, always signing himself ‘F. Luigi of the Oratory’. He left his possessions to the Congregation should it ever be re-established, and left instructions that on his grave the words ‘Presbyter Oratorii’ should appear.The remaining years of Luigi’s life saw him devoted to furthering the work of the Sisters of Providence and also acting as a redoubtable champion of Blessed Pope Pius IX and his policies. After an illness of three months, he died on April 3rd, 1884, and was buried in his home town of Udine.In his spiritual life Luigi had a great devotion to Our Lord as a poor and humble man, and he taught the Sisters to see Christ in the poor and the suffering. Luigi also had a great love for Our Lady, especially Our Lady of Sorrows, for S. Joseph, and, of course, for S. Philip, whom he strove to imitate closely, especially in his love of humility and retirement from the gaze of the world. Also like S. Philip, a spirit of cheerfulness and gaiety marked Luigi’s life. His complete indifference to earthly reputation and honour was reflected in what he said to his nuns as he lay dying: ‘I do not want this poor man even to be remembered’.The likelihood of this last wish being respected was always remote. Miraculous cures through Luigi’s intercession were reported within days of the Saint’s death – one was the restoration to health of a dying child. Interestingly, the miracle which has secured the canonisation is in the same line as the earliest one recorded.It happened in 1996, when Peter Changu Shitima, a young catechist from Zambia, was at home, dying from AIDS, a disease now endemic in many parts of Africa. Doctors had decided that nothing more could be done for the young man. One witness said: ‘He could scarcely lift his legs, and had developed a serious case of peripheral neuritis. He could not stay in bed without help. He was a terminal AIDS patient and nothing could be done.’ Peter’s parish began to pray to Blessed Luigi for him, as he was his favourite figure, one with whose charism he especially identified. On the night of October 9th, 1996, Peter dreamed of Luigi, and the following morning he woke up feeling completely better. One of the doctors involved in the case, Dr Pete de Toit, has said: ‘I sent him home because he was a terminal patient, and he returned brimming with health.’ The doctors agreed that there was no medical explanation for the cure, and the Pope recognised that what had happened was indeed a miracle. The necessary documents were signed by the Pope on July 1st, 2000, allowing the canonization to proceed. Peter Changu is now a priest in South Africa and was present at the ceremony in Rome on June 10th, 2001.S. Luigi’s feast will henceforth be kept on October 5th each year.S. Luigi Scrosoppi, pray for us!

 

Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

John Henry Newman was born in London on 21st February 1801, the eldest son of a London banker. His family were ordinary church-going members of the Church of England, without any strong religious commitments, although the young John Henry did learn at an early age to take a great delight in the Bible. He was sent to Ealing School in 1808, and it was there, eight years later, that he underwent a profound religious conversion which was to shape the rest of his life as a quest for spiritual perfection. In 1817 he entered Trinity College, Oxford. Five years later he was elected to a Fellowship at Oriel College. He was ordained as an Anglican clergyman and worked first as a curate in the poor Oxford parish of Saint Clement’s, and a little later as Vicar of the University Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. His spiritual influence there on parishioners and members of the University was substantial. He worked as a College Tutor, and a little later began to research the first of the many theological works which were to put him at the forefront of religious writers.In 1833 he went on a tour of the Mediterranean with a friend who was in very poor health. While in Sicily he himself fell desperately ill with fever. He recovered and was convinced that God had spared him to perform some special work in England. On his return home he eagerly set about organising what was to become known as the Oxford Movement. That Movement was intended to combat three evils threatening the Church of England: spiritual stagnation, interference from the state, and doctrinal unorthodoxy.When studying the history of the early Church Fathers, Newman was shocked to realize that the position of his own Anglican church bore a close resemblance to some of the heretical positions that had emerged in the theological controversies of the early centuries. He was still further disturbed when a few years later many of the Anglican Bishops denounced some of his works; some of them not merely denouncing him but actually espousing explicitly heretical positions. He decided to withdraw from Oxford, in order to think and pray. Together with a few companions he moved to modest lodgings in the nearby village of Littlemore. For three years he lived a strict religious life there, praying for light and

guidance. By 1845 his mind was clear, and on 9th October he was received into the Roman Catholic Church by Father (now Blessed) Dominic Barberi. He had at last found what he called ‘the one fold of the Redeemer’.Conversion meant ostracism by many friends and some relatives. Undaunted, Newman went to Rome to study for the priesthood. While there he became attracted by the idea of the Oratory – a Congregation of priests and brothers founded by Saint Philip Neri in the sixteenth century. He established the first English Oratory at Maryvale near Birmingham in 1848, moving soon afterwards to Alcester Street near the town centre, where he converted a disused gin distillery into a chapel. The new community moved to a more permanent home in Edgbaston three years later.In 1851 the Bishops of Ireland decided that a separate University should be established for Catholics, and they invited Fr. Newman to become its founder and first Rector. It was a demanding task for an older man, but despite the strain of fifty six crossings to and from Ireland in seven years, he succeeded in establishing what is known today as University College, Dublin.When he returned to England, Newman faced a life of misunderstanding and resentment, even by some in authority, and was even suspected of unorthodoxy. Several projects which he embarked upon met with rejection or failure, including a magazine for educated Catholics, a projected mission at Oxford, and a new English translation of the Bible.During his old age Newman continued in his Oratory in Birmingham, quietly writing, preaching and counselling (from the age of twenty three he had been above all a pastor, a father of souls). When he was seventy eight, as a tribute to his erudition and devotion, Pope Leo XIII made the unprecedented gesture of naming Fr.Newman, a simple priest, as a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church. After a life of trials the news came to him as a joyful relief. He declared ‘the cloud is lifted for ever’.Cardinal Newman died in the Birmingham Oratory on 11th August 1890, and received universal tributes of praise. The Times wrote: “whether Rome canonises him or not he will be canonised in the thoughts of pious people of many creeds in England.” The Cork Examiner affirmed: “Cardinal Newman goes to his grave with the singular honour of being by all creeds and classes acknowledged as the just man made perfect.”In 1991, Cardinal Newman was proclaimed ‘venerable’ by the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In 2009 the miraculous cure of Deacon Jack Sulllivan through the intercession in heaven of Cardinal Newman was confirmed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, paving the way for his beatification. On 19th September 2010 Pope Benedict XVI presided at his Beatification at Cofton Park, in Birmingham.When John Henry Newman’s coffin was exhumed from his grave in the Birmingham Oratory’s cemetery at Rednal in 2010, prior to the beatification ceremony, it was discovered that his body had completely decayed during the time since his burial there in 1890. The very few relics of him that remain are lovingly preserved in a small and modest casket in the chapel which has become his national shrine, in the church of the Birmingham Oratory. His Feast is kept on the 9th of October each year, the anniversary of his reception into the one fold of the Redeemer.

 

Blessed Salvio Huix Miralpeix (1877-1936)

Salvio Huix Miralpeix was born on the 22nd December 1877. His family were devout Catholics. Priests often visited their house and there were priests in the family, and it was no surprise when young Salvio announced his intention to offer himself as a candidate for the priesthood. He entered the local minor seminary at the age of ten and excelled at his studies, not on account of any exceptional intelligence but simply because of his application to hard work. Those who knew him said that he would always do everything as well as he possibly could. He was a practical person and not given to day dreaming. The virtues noticed in him by his fellow students were those which were later to be admired by his fellow Oratorians: his obedience, his joy and warm heartedness, his capacity for hard work, and his avoidance of any type of publicity or acclaim. It is said that as a young man he sometimes had to work hard at controlling a fiery temper. Salvio was ordained priest on 19th September 1903. He worked first as a country curate and then in 1907 at the age of thirty he entered the Vic Oratory  (Catalonia, Spain ). The Fathers at Vic rose at 4:30am every day except on Sundays and feast-days when they got up half an hour earlier. After an hour of mental prayer they would hear confessions in church and after the last penitent had been shriven would then say their Masses at the side-altars in the church. The afternoon was spent back in the confessional or working with one of the groups attached to the Oratory church, e.g. the Brothers of the secular Oratory. They visited the sick and catechized the children. Fr. Huix became aware that there was nothing provided to help young married men, who seemed to have little part in the life of the Church. He felt that religion which attracted only women and children was deficient, so he started a confraternity for married men under the patronage of St. Joseph. He got those men to help the sick not just by visiting them but also by looking after their material needs. He himself was not afraid to get his

hands dirty, and when he wasn’t busy in the confessional or teaching at the seminary he was most likely to be found tending the sick, washing them and changing their bed-linen. By 1927 Fr.Salvio was provost of the Vic Oratory and was then nominated as bishop of Ibiza. The island had been without a bishop for sixty nine years and his appointment was greeted with great joy. A photograph of his arrival shows the quay crowded with hundreds of cheering people. His episcopal consecration on 28th April 1927 meant that he had to leave his Congregation but spiritually he remained a son of St. Philip. As bishop he showed himself to be a caring pastor and very practical. His clergy were impecunious and he organised a life insurance scheme to guarantee them some security in their old age. He encouraged the laity in the social apostolate. In 1931 Spain was declared a republic. Within a few weeks the new regime made itself felt. In Madrid and elsewhere convents were pillaged and burned; the Jesuits were suppressed; the archbishop of Toledo was expelled; all schools run by religious Orders were closed; cemeteries were secularised and Catholic burials were forbidden. All crucifixes were ordered to be removed from the cemeteries. On Ibiza men carried the great crucifix from the cemetery to the cathedral doors where the bishop himself carried it to the sanctuary. Bishop Salvio was not intimidated by the anti-religious regime and in his Lenten pastoral letter of 1932 he told his people that even though the dogs bark and the pigs grunt, the sun and the moon will continue to shine. He remained bishop of Ibiza for eight years and then in 1935 was translated to the diocese of Lerida on mainland Spain.In July 1936 the Spanish Civil War broke out. Between July 1936 and March 1937 there was a terrible onslaught of violence against the Church and thousands of people were killed. By the end of the war 6,832 priests and religious had been killed, including 12 bishops and 283 religious sisters. On the 18th July there was a military uprising against the republican government. Two days later the city of Lerida was in the hands of republican forces who burned the cathedral and the churches of the city. In only a few months eighty per cent of the priests of the diocese were killed. The last photograph of Mgr. Huix taken in June 1936 shows him flanked by the priests he had just ordained. Within a month all but one of those new priests were dead, together with their bishop. One of his young seminarians (about fifteen years old) was given a mock trial. The crowd shouted for his death and the so-called judge went through the motions of washing his hands before condemning the seminarian to death. The boy was beaten, stripped, and nailed to a beam where he died.On the night of the 21st July, after republicans had burned the cathedral, they turned their attention to the episcopal residence. Whilst they were beating down the doors, Bishop Huix, his secretary, the porter and the porter’s daughter, confessed, consumed the Blessed Sacrament, and escaped by the back door. It seems the bishop had expected something of the sort to happen and had kept a suitcase packed and ready. At first he took refuge in the house of his gardener, but realising the danger to which he was exposing the gardener and his family he gave himself up to the police. He said ‘I am the bishop of Lerida and I place myself under your protection.’ The police promptly handed him over to the republicans who imprisoned him. Many of the leading people of the city and a number of the clergy were already in the prison. All were struck by the bishop’s cheerfulness and his continuing care for his flock. On the feast of St.James he celebrated Mass using vessels that had been smuggled into the prison. He administered Holy Communion and heard confessions.Early in the morning on the 5th August (the feast of Our Lady of the Snows) the bishop and twenty others were told that they were going to be taken for trial at Barcelona. Outside the city the lorries stopped by the cemetery and the prisoners were told to get out. Realising they were about to be killed, the group asked their bishop for his blessing. He blessed them saying ‘Be brave, for within the hour we shall be reunited in the presence of the Lord.’ They recited the Credo together and were made to dig their own graves. Mgr.Huix was offered the chance of saving his life if he would abjure the faith. He refused, but asked as a favour that he might be the last to die. As each was killed, the bishop blessed them. One of the militia men objected to that blessing and shot him through the hand, so he continued to bless them with his left hand. In a subsequent written testimony the man who administered the final shots to those who were killed recounted what a quantity of blood was spilt, and that the sinews of the bishop’s arms were exposed through having been shot a number of times. Bishop Salvio was not the only priest of the Oratory to lose his life in the Spanish Civil War. Four priests from the Barcelona Oratory were killed, five more from the Gracia Oratory, and the provost of Vic. Those priests are the proto-martyrs of the Congregation of the Oratory. Bishop Salvio Huix Miralpeix was martyred for the faith and showed himself a true pastor in caring for his flock until the very end. He was beatified in Tarragona cathedral on Sunday 13th October 2013. His feast is to be celebrated each year on 6th November.

 

Bulletin: Second Sunday of Advent

December 6, 2019

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