John Capdevila Costa

Capdevila Joan

Born October 30, 1883 in Sovelles (Gerona)

Professed July 16, 1901

Martired July 25, 1936 in Barcelona

 

He was born on October 30, 1883, in Sovelles (Gerona), Diocese of Vic and was baptized on November 1, in the parish of San Saturnino. His parents were Don Jaime Capdevila and Dª Maria Costa. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation in the same parish, but there are doubts about the date of Confirmation.

He received his academic and Christian education at home. This formation was completed with frequent attendance of catechesis in the parish as well as the local school. In this environment, it helped him to nurture his religious vocation.

He entered the Congregation on May 14, 1900 in Cervera (Lérida) as a Brother. There he made his Novitiate under the direction of Father Mauritius Villa Gonzalez. There were 31 Novices.  He would make his First Profession on July 16, 1901, the anniversary of the founding of the Congregation.

 

Performance:

His assignment was as a tailor in Cervera from 1902 until 1907. At that time, it required a lot of dedication and effort since it was a very large community consisting of 208 members such as priests, brothers and students of Theology and Philosophy. From there he went to Barcelona (1907), the community of Gracia (1920), La Selva del Campo (1926) and again, he would return to Gracia as his final assignment (1929). Here he would be assigned as tailor and porter with faithful observance of the Constitutions. In consideration of his good qualities, he was administrator of the weekly newsletter La Fiesta Santificada. Having seen the good result, later he would be appointed in charge of the Editorial Coculsa, as a branch of the Center in Madrid.

 

Qualities and Virtues

The Brother was physical health and was able to complete his job. He was a good tailor and administrador. Everyone seemed to notice his docility, goodness and observance; highlight his work capacity, activity and diligence to accomplish things.

A short portrait of him is presented in the Official Bulletin: “distinguished himself as sharing propaganda about the Congregation; a good administrator and expresses his love of the Congregation. He was the first martyr of the community of Barcelona in the Red Revolution.” He was the diligent and zealous “administrator.”

In addition, he was faithful and trustworthy. He did not speak ill of anyone. Was friendly, respectful, simple, humble, patient, austere and reserved. He also drew the attention to his piety, his devotion to the Blessed Virgin and his virtues. Even, taking into account the circumstances of these years, expressed a readiness for martyrdom.

 

Martyrdom

On July 19, 1936, with the Marxist Revolution taking control and the dispersion of the community, he went to where they had the administration offices, located on Calle Buenavista #14, to monitor and safeguard the interests of the Congregation. He was accompanied by Mr. Palomas who was in charge of the house. They sought refuge in the administration office thinking that the situation would calm down in a short time and spent the first week without realizing the danger they were facing.

Lunch and dinner were prepared a few times in the home of Mrs. Elisa Torras, sister of the accounting of Coculsa, Mr. Eladio Torras. She would bring the food down to them. There he received two phone calls from Brother Pique and a visit from Fr. Michael Salavedra, who offered him shelter and accommodation in the house of a family friend but the Brother did not accept. This decision was due to his great sense of responsibility for the property of the Congregation. Therefore he would not abandon the local administration office.

At four in the afternoon of July 25th, the feast of St. James (Santiago), while they were in the home of a family friend, they noticed that a large car stopped in front of the door. More than half a dozen militia members disembarked from the car. The Brother and Mr. Palomas quickly went to the floor of the administration of Coculsa, if by chance they were going there. The militia were at the door and they met. There the militiants began to record all correspondence of the administration office. The reason for this recording was that the editorial had a religious tone and the plan of the Popular Front was to end everything dealing with the Church. Thus, the motive was hatred to Religion and the Christian faith.

After ten minutes, the Brother and the Assistant were placed in the car. Possibly they were taken to a Committee office in the area. Half an hour later, they returned with the Brother. It wasn’t about inquiries, perhaps for some money. With the Brother, they certainly would not find anything. They threw things over the balcony onto the street and set fire to it. This shows that they were not interested to take over the administration and its business, but the destruction of the office. They took the Brother because of his status as a religious and all trace of him was lost.

The Brother, as well as other members of his community were prepared for martyrdom and accepted it as a grace of God. It is enough to recall the spirit of prayer that was part of the communities since 1931, the tragic events in the successive years prepared them to accept the will of God. The Superior publicly proclaimed this in preaching at the Church. When the dispersion of the community began, the Brother didn’t want to leave the house because he was willing to deal with all the circumstances, even death.

In addition, during the week that took refuge in the administration offices, he said would say repeatedly to the family who attended him. On the other hand, this attitude is deducted from his refusal to abandon the administration office so as to reach safety or a safer place.

The Brother was shot on the night of 25th. On the 26th, there was a photo of him at the clinic. The Brother and Mr. Palomas had been shot. His corpse was seen in the Hospital by a woman from Calle Bellavista who knew him and reported the news of his martyrdom throughout the neighborhood.