Jacinto Blanch Ferrer

Blanch Jacinto

Born April 27, 1868 in Vilanova de Sau (Barcelona)

Professed September 18, 1885

Ordained a priest March 12, 1892

Shot August 21, 1936

 

He was born in Vilanona de Sau (Barcelona), in the Diocese of Vic on April 27,1868, and baptized on the same day in the parish Church of Santa Maria. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the same Church on July 1, 1868. When he was twelve years old, he made his First Communion. His parents were José Blanch Bosch, a Secretary and Maria Ferrer Raurell. They had a large family and were deep religious, as evidenced by the fact that all the children would embrace the religious life. Five children were Claretian Missionaries; Augustine, Antonio, Jacinto, Jose Maria and Michael.

He completed classes in Grammar and Rhetoric and two years in Philosophy in the Seminary in Vic. He asked to enter into the Congregation on June 29, 1884. The Master of Novices of Vic, Fr. Jose Vilaró, in accordance with the provisions of the Holy See, requested the necessary information from the Bishop of Vic and the parish priest, who responded favorable. On July 21, 1884, he entered the Novitiate of Vic, where he studied Logic and Metaphysics.

The following year, he went to Santo Domingo de la Calzada where he made his First Profession on September 18, 1885. There he completed the school years of Ethics, Theology and Moral (1885-1889) and received Tonsure (August 22, 1886), the Minor Orders (April 17, 1887), the Subdiaconate (August 25, 1889) and the Diaconate (September 20, 1890) from the Bishop of Calahorra. He was ordained a priest (March 12, 1892) in Zaragoza, from the Bishop of Zaragoza.

The assignment which the Superiors gave were in accordance with his intellectual qualities. Though not a scholar, he was very practical. His health was not excellent. His talent were remarkable and constant, and he had a fondness for preaching. He was observant and sometimes a little stubborn and tenacious.

Therefore, his first assignment was the college of Cervera (1890-1891). Then he would move on to Alagon and La Selva del Campo dedicated to the teaching of Latin and Syntax with extern students and Postulants.

Later he would be assigned to Gracia as preacher (1887), then Solsona (1888), and on to Lérida, Vic and Sabadell. He would be the local Minister (ecónomo) in Vic (1906) and return to Gracia. During these years there was an political outbreak against the Church. He helped the Religious Sisters understand that wearing a blouse out of the convent to find out what was going on during difficult times was in compliance with their vows. It was good visiting religious refugees in private homes and even mingling with the arsonists to discourage them from burning any church was necessary.

The house and the Church of Gracia were destroyed during the Tragic Week in Barcelona during the 1909 Revolt along with a small community of which Fr. Jacinto was a Consultant. Once the situation was settled the house of Gracia was restored, Fr. Jacinto was made Superior during the reconstruction (1911-1913). The house was reconstructed by the famous architect Juan Martorell. Fr. Jacinto was assigned Superior of the community in Sallent in 1920. He was asked to remodel everything; the building, convent and the public chapel located in the birthplace of Fr Claret with scarce resources. All this would give him serious health problems. Subsequently, for his intelligence and ability, he would be entrusted to the works of Solsona. He was the founder of the Union of suffrages, approved by the Government on November 2, 1915.

His religious and priestly life was always animated by the zeal for the glory of God. He was a man of strong faith, virtuous, simple, humble, devoted to the Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin, the Rosary and of Fr Claret. He was also involved in the cause for beatification of the Founder.

His zeal for the salvation of souls was demonstrated in the countless Spiritual Exercises he gave to many religious communities. Always ready to celebrate the Mass, even if he was sick. In fact, Dr. Bofill recalls an anecdote by Fr. Jacinto. “While I was traveling and with little free time, I went to a chapel near the station. I called out but no one was there.  I saw the altar prepared with the chalice and other things for Mass. I celebrated Mass and left the chalice on the altar and the other ornaments. Then I returned to the station and continued on my journey.”

 

Vice Postulator

He was Vice-Postulator from 1916 until his death in 1936. This official position was specifically for the promotion of  the beatification of the Venerable Anthony Mary Claret and Fr. Francisco Crusats. This work demanded the freedom to move, as well as economy and domestic support for this project.

He worked tirelessly to the point that the Beatification would become a reality. Because of this assignment he woud be sent to the Generalitat houses in Madrid (1929) and Calle Ripoll (Barcelona 1935). A hard worker as he was, he would help publish an interesting bibliographic study about Fr Claret.

 

Martyrdom

In the community on Calle Ripoll in Barcelona, he was surprised by the outbreak of the Marxist Revolution of 1936. The sense of these events in other regions are reflected in his correspondence with his brother in Chile. Not only this, but the testimonies he preached of his desire to give his blood for Christ. He was prepared to do this and receive the grace of martyrdom. This inner preparation led him to live with peace.

During the two days of the Revolution, he took refuge in the house of Don Eugenio Bofill, where he stayed until August 19th. He even went to other houses to celebrate the Mass with apostolic zeal. It was there where he also received visits from other Claretians and made confession. In addition, he would lead the Rosary and instruct the children in the family. In his walks, he heard many blasphemies of which he would respond shouting praise be to God.

On August 6 and 7, he was with his brother Antonio, who proposed that they leave the Red Zone with other colleagues, to which he replied:

If all of us priests leave who will care for the faithful of Barcelona since they are hiding in their homes?

He said to the Bofill’s that he wanted to give his blood for Christ.

On August 17. The fear of another registration by the militia in the Bofill home helped him to see it was necessary to seek another shelter. He went to another home, but in this home there had already been a registration and arrested of three religious. He exercised his ministry with those who were religious like him. The next day, he went to the shelter where his brother, Fr. Augustine was staying. After eating, he went to the old refuge where he spent the rest of the day in prayer.

The next day, August 19th, Mr. Bofill went in search of a safe haven but on the stairs was found by the militia who were making a recording of the individuals and property in his home. They asked his name and the answer: I am Bofill. They forced him to return to the floor. In the ladder before entering they asked who had been in the house and he said: My family and a teacher of my children.

He knocked on the door and the girl, looking through the peephole, open the door when she saw the Owner. The two patrols with their guns in hand also entered. The recording was from 11:30 to two in the afternoon. They went through the rooms. And in one they found Fr. Jacinto instructing children. When asked who he was, he showed them a card in that consisted as an employee of a printing press editorial and they believed it. They continued the registration in search of treasure.

Fr. Blanch did not doubt that his hour had come because he had handed his watch to his brother Augustine and he would not have denied his status as religious. They asked Mr. Bofill for the treasure that the Claretians have in the missions of Fernando Poo. Actually they were looking for Fr. Pous and coarseness told Father Blanch: Explain some things you know about these treasures.

The priest was detained with insults, but before leaving and searching his pockets found a rosary. Why hide this, you coward? He didn’t have time to respond to nonsense like that but he hung it around his neck. Then the owner of the house made a last attempt to save him and told the patrol members: Will you carry a poor and sick man? They answered: You’re not poor.

It is not known where he was taken, perhaps a prison or to torture him. The family Bofill and his friends proceeded with care to find the whereabouts and obtain freedom for the priest. The response was: if he were a paisano… but in the case of a priest, there is no resource. It is known that he was taken to Pedrales and shot August 21st, because his body was taken to the Hospital. The corpse was recognized by the girl who worked in the Bofill home and Dr. Puig of Fabregas. On the 24th, he was buried in a niche of the Bofill family in the cemetery of Sants. The charge of the cemetery, without prior notice from the family threw the remains in a common grave, making it impossible for his identification.