Emilio Bover Albareda

Born on August 31, 1868 in Castelltersol (Barcelona)

Professed on October 1, 1889

Ordained a priest on January 16, 1898

Shot August 20, 1936 in Cervera (Lérida)

 

The popular preacher Father Emilio Bover Albareda was born on August 31, 1868, in the village of Castelltersol in the province of Barcelona and the Diocese of Vic. He was baptized in the parish Church of San Fruttuoso on September 3, 1868. He received his Confirmation in the same parish Church on November 13, 1869 by His Excellency Antonio Luis Jorda, Bishop of Vic, during the pastoral visitation.

His parents were Don Lorenzo Bover, a farmer, and Teresa Albareda.

The first rudiments of Latin, Rhetoric and Poetic study of the Arts, took place in a branch of the Diocesan Seminary, between 1885-1888.

In the summer of 1888, he joined the community of Cervera, where he received the habit on September 3, 1888 and made his First Profession on October 1, 1889. His Master of Novices was Father Sanchez del Val. These were temporary vows, due to his age being 20 years old. He professed ad nutum superioris, and prior to ordination he would profess in sacris.

While in Cervera, he completed studies of Philosophy and Theology, then in 1894, he moved on to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Academics were difficult for him to the point that he considered the brotherhood. Jokingly, his classmates said that the 30-year-old finished the race a virgin and martyr, referring to the little knowledge and much determination.[1] In January 1895, he received the four Minor Orders from His Excellency Mariano Supervia, Auxiliary Bishop of Zaragoza. He received the Subdeaconate on September 17, 1897, from His Excellency Ramón Fernández Piérola, Bishop of Vitoria. He was then ordained a Deacon by His Excellency José Mª García Escuder, Bishop of Osma on January 9, 1898 and the following Sunday conferred the priesthood.

          The following year, 1899, he received his first assignment to the newly founded house of Sabadell. Two years later, he was sent to La Selva de Camp as preacher. In September 1904, the Superiors  assigned him to Vic and before the end of the year he was sent to Santiago de Chile.

 

A missionary in Chile

Father Bover, with three other Priests and two Brothers, undertook the trip to Chile in the Transatlantic Steamship Leo XIII on December 3, 1904, in the direction of Buenos Aires. From there to Chile passing through the Andes on a train which lasted 44 hours. They arrived in Santiago at eleven at night on December 29, 1904. In 1906, he would return to Spain and staying in the Generalate of Aranda de Duero.

          Father Bover was assigned to the community of Cartagena in 1908, where he dedicated himself to preaching and catechesis. In 1914, he was transferred to Solsona as a Consultant and preacher. In this community, he demonstrated his ability in working with electricity, thus installed electricity in the house and church. In whatever house he visited he would install electricity. In 1916, he was elected local librarian and mass collector. In 1919, the Provincial Government decided to build a school for Moral Theology. The intervention of Father Bover was remarkable. In his many sermons, he was able to inspire many vocations to the Postulancy.

In December 1922, he was assigned to the new house of San Feliu de Guixols as preacher. Here, too, he was given the post of librarian, with the charge as professor of public speaking. Several members of this community were able to send 65 students in a year and a half to the postulancies of Vic and Cervera, almost all from the Diocese of Girona. The chronicle of the community informs: “However it is fair to note that this important and praiseworthy work was Father Emiio Bover… with the casit travel expenses thanks to the generosity of a good friend and then to accompany the new students to the schools indicated.”

In 1925, a new house was founded in Girona and Father Bover would be assigned there to prepare the house. From this community, he recruited 33 other children for the Postulancy in the first year. As the librarían, he would make it one of the most elite of the province.

Four years later in 1929, he was assigned to the community of Lleida. His final assignment would be Cervera. Here he also continued with the work of sorting books to various communities. It was his preferred occupation.

“On one of his trips he came across Alejandro Lerroux in the same train compartment and asked him:

          Mr. Lerroux, if the time comes where you have the power,, will you follow through with all you have said… to make sausage from Canonist and ham from the Bishop?

No, in no way… I said that to motivate the workers… on other issues they remain indifferent…

Actually he was called “Emperor of Parallels” which was better than it appeared. When the convents and churches in Madrid were burning, Lerroux was Minister of State in the Republic… He returned to Madrid from a trip to Paris.

Barbarians!, What are you doing? Don’t you realize that we are acting dishonorable to the world?[2]

 

Qualities: In a report from a Theology student, he was regarded as attentive and helpful, not discreet to speak of others. Crafty, practical, saw value in physics. Is astute. His intellectual qualities were average and according to reports, lacking culture, laxed in serious study, but was a great librarian. On several occasions he wrote to his Superiors to despense him from moral exams.

In his obituary it is said that he was an totally original man, with a good amount of humor and irony, able to laugh at himself, thus able to be sympathetic, renowned and popular. He was very charitable as seen in Cartagena with his concern for the poor. He was also very active and a hard worker.

He had a great love for the Congregation.

 

Preacher

He was a great preacher for the humble people. When he would go to the pulpit to attract their attention, he’d say: Look here, look on me. I’m so very ugly.

He was an untiring preacher, he refused no one or the distinction of any place. Even if he didn’t possess great oratory skills, he was a good missionary and preacher. In his simplicity and goodness, he left an indelible memory. In the missions, he would win the confidence of the penitents. From the pulpit he would say: “I don’t like confessions of angels that have no need and can trick me.”[3]

Another important facet in his apostolic ministry was catechesis. He called attention to this in Cartagena and Gerona. This method of teaching he learned from Fr. Costanso in Santiago, Chile.

 

Recruiter of vocations. This has been referred to earlier. However it should be noted that the tactic and the circumstances allowed during the novenas in the missions inspired vocations of the youth. Unprecedented.”He was at ease among children; knowing how to capture their attention… – Be well, he said… “que tant us donare un confit com una clatellada.”[4]

He paid for travel and other needs of the students. Don Marcos, Naval Officer of Cartagena funded many of his projects and after Don Marcos death, Mrs. Conception de Barnola supported his projects.

 

Shelter and martyrdom

When the community of Cervera disperses on July 21, 1936, Father Bover took refuge in the home of Mr G¨ueli, manufacturer of biscuits. The Committee of Cervera had given orders, an edict, against the priest, threatening death to those who helped him. Later this order would extend to all priests and religious. So that everyone would know, posters were hung in the streets. On the first days of the Revolution, Mass was celebrated in the Church of St. Augustine. In the sacristy they discussed if they could celebrate Mass without a cassock.

On July 23rd, he took refuge in the home of Don José Civit, a pharmacist, who went looking for him. His main occupation was to pray and be with the children of the house. He had hidden consecrated hosts in the home, which he had taken from the Church. Every day he recited the way of the Cross and praying the holy Rosary with the participation of the family. He also would explain the Gospel. He would hear confession of the family members and others who came to see him.

I felt the shame for the parents and families of so many children that he had recruited for the Postulancy.

Referring to the words of Jesus to the sons of Zebedee: Can you drink of the cup that I will drink? He said that we were all willing to give Jesus the same answer: We Can! Both Father Bover and Mr. Civit were resigned to death.

On August 19th, at eleven o’clock at night a few armed individuals, among them such Mr. Cera, bloodthirsty, asked Mr. José Civit to go with him for a statement and then he could return. Mr. Civit gave them the rosary saying, “I’ll go to heaven.” The militia said not to close the door because they would take down a recording. Father Bover said this and replied:

Now begins the agony.

He retired to the living room and spent the night preparing to die. At five o’clock in the morning, the militia had not yet arrived and they told him to retire to rest. He went the children room where one was sick. The Father put on the white coat saying:

So you look like a doctor, or a nurse practitioner who is watching the older child.

On August 20th, between eight and nine in the morning, the militia arrived to take down the information. Entering the room and they saw him they asked him who he was, a girl who was a family friend and visiting the children responded. One of the militia pulled out a portrait from his pocket and recognizing him said:

You are a priest.

Yes, I am a priest, replied Father Bover.

He commanded that they should leave without allowing him to say goodbye to the family: The kids said sharply, why are you are in a hurry:

Father Emilio! The one from heaven would help you.

The sister-in-law of the Mr José also entrusted him to God:

Say goodbye to the family for me and he thanked her for the compassionate care. I will say goodbye from heaven.

After a half hour they appeared again and asked for the watch and money of the priest. The watch was simple and the money: 25 pesetas.

Father Bover was taken to the Committee and then to the cemetery of Cervera to be shot. It is said that prior to this act, the priest forgave his killers and asked to Kiss their hands. He also pray a Creed and shouted “Long Live Christ the King.” Then he went to the gates of the cemetery and they killed him. It was August 20, 1936. He is buried in that cemetery.

[1] Roura, E., Necrology of Father Emilio Bover Albareda, in the Province bulletin of Cataluña 20 (1958) p. 96.

[2] Pastor Redondo,J., Memories of our martyrs from Cervera, p. 3: APC 4 2 1102.

[3] Roura, E., Necrology of Father Emilio Bover Albareda, Bulletin of the Provincia de Cataluña 20 (1958) pp. 119-120.

[4] Pastor Redondo,J., Memories from our martyrs from Cervera, p. 3: APC 4 2 1102