Adolfo de Esteban Rada

Born September 28, 1912 in Berbinzana (Navarra)

Profession October 1, 1928 in Vich

Murdered July 31, 1936 in Barcelona


He was born on September 28, 1912, in Barbinzana (Navarra), Diocese of Pamplona. His parents were Don Quintin de Esteban and Faustina Rada. He was baptized the following day in the parish Church of Santa Maria. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation on June 2, 1913, during the pastoral visit of the Bishop of Pamplona. He made his First Communion in 1921 at the age of nine.

On November 19, 1923, he entered the Postulancy in Alagon. There he remained until 1925. His Prefect of Postulants was Father Francisco Piñol. In the first year, he studied Spanish, Latin, Arithmetic, Catechism and Sacred History. In the second year he added Analogy. On August 17, 1925, he went to Cervera for the 3rd and 4th year of Humanities. He did very well in his studies.

On July 28, 1927, he went to Vic to begin the Novitiate. The Master of Novices was Fr. Ramón Ribera. He began the program on September 30th. On October 1, 1928, he would make his First Profession. The following day he would leave for Solsona to pursue studies in Philosophy, Logic, Metaphysics and Ethics. His Prefect was Fr. Felipe Calvo.

On August 26, 1931, he moved with his classmates to Cervera to study Theology. The trip was made with all the students wearing secular clothes. They took advantage of the secular suits that had been purchased several weeks earlier. They were taking every precaution by the prevailing social insecurity and hatred against the Church raised by the Republic. The Prefects of Cervera were Father’s José Arner (1931-1933), Clement Ramos (1933-1934) and Felipe Calvo (1936). In 1935, when he completed his studies, but still having to fulfill his military service, he was assigned to the college of Barcelona as a teacher. He fulfilled his obligations during the year 1935-1936. He had good physical qualities, a positive attitude and was talented.


Priestly Missionary Vocation

As the years passed and he progressed in his studies, his enthusiasm seemed to grow. Though he was aware that the situation was not favorable but hostile for anyone wanting to serve in the Church. This hatred that the government expressed for the Church was: “according to rumors and with the intent of doing away with the cassock… If only for that reason… yet more than hatred was their desire to destroy everything holy and sacred; and sooner or later they would act on this decisión.”

Despite the fact that the situation continues to deteriorate, his spirit and illusion didn’t diminish but rather increased. His only regrets was having to do the fifths or the required military service, which delayed his ordination by two or three years. The proclamation of the Republic also ended his hopes of going to the missions in America or Africa.

On the same subject, he wrote to his father in 1936: “The joy that I would give if I could get ordained a priest as soon as possible,” but since he had no defects provided by law (eye sight, chest, or height) he couldn’t be free and wrote: “I have to go through the guillotine… the great satisfaction of seeing myself as a priest of God.”



According to the testimonies collected, they confirm the soundness of the formation he received. Man of faith alive and intense. Natural piety. He was very devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Prayed the Rosary daily.

Apostolic zeal. He expressed this desire by his looks. He helped two of his brothers to abandon their socialist ideals and practicing Christians ideals by not fighting against the Church. Faithfully observant to his religious obligations. Simple and talented.

He was a scholar. A good teacher and diligent in giving classes. Simple, docile, obedient, helpful, friendly and charitable.


Acceptance of martyrdom

From 1931, all the religious faced the tension of the new situation with an awareness of not abandoning the faith nor religious vocation due to the difficulties, even in the face of death. His willingness to die for Christ was a part of his formation to the priesthood. Acceptance of the consequences of his religious vocation.

He write at the beginning of 1936. In a letter to his brother Teodoro, he says: “Believe me Teodoro, that the actual policy situation doesn’t scare me if it is necessary to die a martyr for the faith of Jesus Christ. This will be brief; the joy, eternal… The future looks really black, but there is no choice but to entrust oneself to God and to resign ourselves to what God may want.”

Three months later, he writes to his father to reassert the same idea: “Have no fear about my luck, because if you must know, I am determined to shed my blood for the cause of Jesus Christ.”



August 26, 1935. He arrived at the house of Barcelona and on July 19, 1936, he would have leave due to the tragic circumstances. He didn’t want to leave the convent because he was ready to face all the difficulties, even death. But there wasn’t any choice. When he left along with fellow Claretian José Mª Oliva, they took refuge in the house of Mrs. Oliva on Calle Corcega. There they were dedicated to prayer oblivious to any danger. As guests, they raised suspicions and were reported to the Committee, which sent their registrars on July 31.

At 7:00 in the morning of July 31, a militia patrol arrived for a registration. Once again a militant would say: This floor is full of priests. The record was thorough and they took some things that interested them. The student, Adolfo de Esteban was arrested. His friend was able to sneak away through the intervention of his brother Mariano. But before leaving the house, they had the opportunity to say goodbye to the mother of his friend José Mª. He gave Jose a watch so that he could pass it on to his father as the only memory and express that he was ready to face of death.

With the arrested, the militiants went to the college on Calle Father Claret. There they were greeted by a child calling him Father. The militia didn’t find anything at the school. The reason for his dentention and subsequent death was because he was a  religious from the convent of Fr Claret. From the college, they took him to a Committee in the neighborhood for statements and from there to his death, which was shortly after. He died about three in the afternoon.

The place of martyrdom were on the grounds behind the Hospital of St. Paul. This is where the body was found. After his body was taken to the clinic, he was recognized by Angela Oliva, the sister of José Mª. The whereabouts of his remains is unknown.