Gumersindo Valtierra Alonso

Valtierra Gumersindo

Born January 13, 1876 in San Martin de Humada (Burgos)

Professed August 15, 1894 in Cervera

Ordained a priest September 19, 1908 in Lleida

Shot July 26, 1936 in Barcelona

 

He was born on January 13, 1876, in San Martín de Humada, a Municipality of Los Ordejones and Diocese of Burgos. He was baptized in the parish Church of San Martin on the same day of his birth and received the Sacrament of Confirmation in Villadiego on July 7, 1877, by the Archbishop of Burgos. His parents were Santiago Valtierra, a laborer and Josefa Alonso, a homemaker. He received his education at home and in the parish where he was an altar boy. It was there that his religious vocation grew.

He would enter the Claretian Postulancy of Segovia on February 13, 1890. This class was rather large. In the second year, there were 121 students. In all his courses, he was given a meritissimus grade. Good moral and religious conduct.

On August 20, 1893, he went to Cervera for the Novitiate. Father José Xifré, Superior General would welcome the new Novices. There were 94 Novices from the Novitiates of Barbastro, Alagon, Segovia and Valmaseda.

His First Profession was on August 15, 1894. Then he began the study of Philosophy. In the philosophical studies, he demonstrated intellectuals and human qualities. On July 16, 1897, he would be living at La Selva del Campo as a Brother candidate. It appears that he was moved to the category of Brother and as a professed student because of some epileptic attacks affecting his health.

He was a model of religious observance and humbly accepting the decisions of the Superiors. To be moved to the category of Brother Curate because of his illness seemed to incapacitate him for the priesthood. As a brother, he was assigned to La Selva as a professor and instructor of extern students. In February 1900, he was transferred to Cervera.

When he overcame the illness that plagued him during his early studies, he resumed the studies for the priesthood. He returns to the category of student. In 1905, he goes to Barbastro as a teacher of Postulants and in the year 1906-1907, he is also the Assistant Prefect. During this time, he is taking theological studies at the Diocesan Seminary of Barbastro. In this city, he receives the Minor Orders (December 22, 1907), the Subdiaconate in Lleida (June 13, 1908), the Diaconate in Alagon (July 5, 1908) and on September 19, 1908, he is ordained to the priesthood in Lleida. After ordination, he would return to Barbastro as a professor. He  seemed to fit the bill as an excellent teacher. In the summer of 1909, he would move on to Vic as Prefect of Postulants, replacing Father Ramón Ribera. In the changes of 1916, he would be sent to Cartagena, where he stayed until the end of 1922. In January 23,  1923, he would be assigned to Alagon as the house Minister. From September 18, 1924 until 1929, he was the Prefect of Discipline in the Seminary where the Claretian community was in charge.

In 1928, he was assigned to Requena as Superior. There he established the Arch Confraternity of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with numerous affiliates.

In 1932, at the direction of the Provincial of Catalonia, he was appointed Superior of the Generalitat of the Calle Ripoll in Barcelona, a position which he accepted by obedience: “I was born to obey and not to send… it will be for me a torture having to lead.” On May 12th, he became Superior. In December he would be asked to become the Collector General. The decline in Mass intentions led him to devise a remedy. Through the Marian Union of Suffrages, all of the members of the Institute would promote the program. He didn’t want to continue as Superior, but was confirmed in this office in 1934.

 

Virtues

A courageous man of faith.

Devout, fervent, very devoted to the Virgin Mary and the Rosary.

Good Spirit, diligent, of good character and very peaceful. Humble, simple, modest. Talented and a good preacher. Qualities to work in the government. Prudent. Trustworthy.

Observant, religious, careful in fulfilling his obligations, honest and docile with Superiors. A good superior and and teacher.

His relations with the family is loving, concerned for all, in particular to promote vocations among his nephews. In addition giving them advice of Christian living.

He remembered the religious practices that his mother had formed in his house, how to pray the Rosary in the family every day.

 

Acceptance of martyrdom

Beginning in 1931, he expressed the desire to suffer martyrdom in imitation of other Claretians: “encouraged by Father Angel, not only to endure with joy the termination of religious persecution but to suffer, if necessary in imitation of the martyrdom of Father Crusats and Sola. What an honor for our illustrious Institute.”

When he had to abandon the religious house on July 21, 1936, and take refuge in the homes of friends, he frequently expressed his readiness to face the martyrdom and shed his blood for Jesus Christ. He would often say “God above all.”  He had put all his trust in Jesus.

 

Martyrdom

On July 20, 1936, the Revolution exploded. They informed Father Valtierra to leave the house because they were in danger. He replied: “But if we haven’t done any wrong to anyone…” This response is in accordance with what he thought about the revolutionaries. He just didn’t understand. They insisted that there was an urgent need to dress in secular clothes and escape. The Father, didn’t have friends where to escape, so he took refuge with Fr. Jacinto Blanch at the home of Don Eugenio Bofill.

On July 25. After four or five days looking for alternative accommodation, they went to the home of Don Ramón Sunyer, brother of a Claretian living in Italy. The house was being guarded. Then they went to the house of Doña Carmen Bayonne, where the floor was already occupied with religious from the Servants of Jesus community. Despite the fact that the situation was so delicate and critical, the Father wanted to celebrate the Mass. One of the sisters had to take them to the Little Sisters of the Poor because it was a safe place. The Father wasn’t pleased, but in the end accepted this decisión. “Since my ordination I have never ceased to celebrate Mass until this day.”

There he exercised his priestly responsibility and began to give lessons in tranquility and spirituality. He said to the owner: Don’t be afraid, I am praying the Divine Office and to the Virgin so that she would help us. The Sisters were encouraged and happy. They understood and admired that he was preparing them for martyrdom.

On the other hand, the priest want ted to leave the house for fear that the owner was in danger. The Nuns attempted to dress in “secular clothes.”. The priest found it difficult to disguise himself. He only had black clothes. The priest went out Sunday, July 26th, in the afternoon with intention of going to a friend’s house in Sarria. He followed the direction at the tram and when he arrived at the bridge of Vallarca, he was detained by a patrol of militia, commanded by Jaime Serrat. Seeing the priest, he said ‘a religious!’ The chief desembarking the car, asks:

Are you religious?

Yes, I am, by the grace of God, the Father says with all candor. His demeanor had betrayed him. There was a dialogue between the detainee and the chief concerning the house that he has just left.  Then the interogation began. He was asked who had led him to that house and recognizing the danger, he wouldn’t say anything. In response the chief began beating him. The priest pulled out his rosary and in silence with resignation began praying.

At that time, other Red militiants arrived and the detainee was turned over to them:

You can take this one and do whatever you want.

They took him away by car and on the Calle Napoleon made him get out of the car. They made him walk up the street and after a bit, their was the sound of multiple shots. He was left lying dead on the street. They only heard a woe! It was mixed with the thud of his body collapsing. The shooting took place between 10 and 12 on the night of July 26, 1936.

Day 27. The corpse wasn’t found until five in the morning, when the body was taken to the clinic. They recognize the body because some people knew him.

When Father Jacinto Blanch didn’t see Fr. Valtierra, he went to the clinic and there recognize the photograph of the body. Apparently the address of the house where he was staying was found and the subject of several registrations.