Born on November 3, 1909 in Olujas (Lérida)
Professed on August 31, 1926
Ordained a priest September 22, 1934
Shot August 25, 1936 in Cervera (Lérida)
Father Enrique Cortadellas was born in the village of Olujas, in the province of Lerida, on November 3, 1909 and was baptized on November 7, 1909, in the parish of Santa Maria, belonging to the Diocese of Solsona. He was Confirmed in the same parish on June 15, 1912. His parents were Don Ramón Cortadellas, a laborer, and Mrs. Angela Segura, were very honorable and pietistic individuals. They had five children, two of whom were Claretians, Enrique and Gabriel who would die in Solsona on February 7, 1933.
He entered the Postulancy in Vic in 1921, where he studied the Humanities until 1925, and his Prefect was Fr Jaime Girón. In the same community of Vic, on August 29, 1925, he took the habit and began his Novitiate year under the guidance of Fr Ramón Ribera, and would make his First Profession on August 31, 1926. The following day he moved to Barcelona to study Philosophy. He excelled in his studies, but with some enough effort. In the afternoon of August 16, 1929, he and all his companions, accompanied by Father Cabra, left for Cervera by way of Manresa. During the class years 1930-1932, he joined with his brother Gabriel, who obtained outstanding qualifications.
In the first week of February 1931, he received Tonsure from His Excellency Manuel Irurita, Bishop of Barcelona. The following year, on January 24th, he received the first two Minor Orders. In September 1932, he traveled by bus with the other students toward Solsona to receive the other Orders, but by special providence the car did not fall off a cliff, and he could not continue the trip because the car could only take four people. On September 17, 1933, he received the sub-deaconate. The Diaconate was conferred by His Excellency Ramón Font, Bishop of Tarija, Bolivia, on May 26, 1934. In Barbastro, on September 22, 1934, he was Ordained to the priesthood from His Excellency Nicanor Mutiloa, Apostolic Administrator of Barbastro.
His first and final assignment was the community of Cervera with the office of teacher in the school of children. He was in this community when it had to disperse on July 21, 1936.
Qualities. According to reports from the Master of Novices, he was a little distracted, thoughtless, but humble and with a desire to be corrected.
Shelter and martyrdom
When his family learned that the former University was sieged, his brother Joseph went in search of Father Enrique and after many vicissitudes, took him to their parents’ home in Olujas, not far from Cervera, thinking that it was a safe place. But, as has been said on other occasions, the family homes were observed with many dangers, like denunciation, hide outs, etc. Father Enrique was accompanied by the student Jose Berenguer, also a teacher of children at the school. Jose quickly moved on.
While he was in his home, he informed his sister-in-law Dona Josefa Carulla, that he was dedicated to the recitation of the breviary with the only book he had left, the Holy Rosary as a family and he would explain the life of the saint of the day. He also helped in the tasks of the threshing and prayers in a farm house. He had an exquisite relationship with everyone. Despite the fact that he was calm, the news that he received on the shootings of his peers caused him to suffer greatly. He lost nine kilos!
The aforementioned sister-in-law continued informing Father Cortadellas of the news that arrived, and his mother told him that she felt regret for having allowed him to be religious. He immediately countered that this is what he wanted. That if he could live a hundred times, he would enter in the same Congregation at risk of losing his life. He told her to remain calm, if they kill me, I would go to heaven and pray for all of you. He spoke often with his brother Thomas about the events, and he expressed the feeling that he was going to die a martyr.
On August 24th, the student Jose Berenguer returned and informed him that the C.N.T. were on their way. For this reason, Father Cortadellas and Jose passed the day hidden far from the home. As evening approached and no one arrived, they returned to the house. But, at eleven-thirty at night their was pounding at the door. The sister-in-law of the Father went to the balcony and saw many armed people. The Committee was from Cervera, C.N.T., which asked them to open the door. His brother Joseph, before going down to open the door, told Father and Jose to run taking advantage of the dark. These excaped by the gate of the corral overlooking the field.
When Joseph opened the door, the Committee spokesperson said:
We here to gather information. We know that you have things from the University of Cervera.
At that moment they heard shooting in the direction of the fugitives. They hadn’t taken four steps when the militia sent a volly of shots. They said: Look, it’s like hunting partridges. There were two militia men guarding the brother and sister-in-law of the priest and the others went looking for them. They could have escaped. When Father Enrique saw what was happening he came back because he said:
I prefer to return. To kill my brother no. I rather you kill me.
He called from the door of the barn and his family went to open the door accompanied by the two militia members. Seeing him, they shouted:
We have him. We still need another, referring to Berenguer. Then Berenguer hid in another barn, where they found him and took him. They asked him who he was and one of the militia began to make an anticlerical speech saying that they could not live. The speech lasted almost an hour and a half. They didn’t ask Father Enrique anything. Finally they said: “Enough Is Enough! Follow Us,” referring to the priests. Then the Father Enrique hugged his mother saying:
Goodbye Mother, to glory!
The other family members also hugged him, so that he wouldn’t go. The futile attempts of the relatives were useless. They violently yanked and hit him with rifle butts. Father Enrique said:
How painful is having a mother at certain times!
The cars were left on the outskirts of the village, near the slopes. The head of the militia decided that each one be in a different car. Father Enrique was taken to the car, but they were not able to get it running. The other militia went to see, leaving only one with Berenguer. The car started and they took Father Enrique to Cervera. Berenguer with only a single militia man, tried to open the door, but couldn’t and told the militia. It wasn’t easy to open the door with one hand while holding the gun. Then Berenguer gave him a strong punch in the hand that had the gun, falling to the ground and he instantly broke into a run. There were screams and gunshots. Turning on the light beams of the car, they couldn’t find him. He hid in a haystack.
How could one escape? They returned to the house and took Joseph to Cervera. There, before the Committee was Enrique. No one said anything because there were people, but they thought of killing them both. They said to Joseph;
“How was it that you had these people in your home? I should take a gun and kill them!” He said: This is the way to kill the brothers? They replied: Well at least you could have turn them away.
Then Father Enrique, to save him, said:
He wanted to turn me away. He was unable to do so.
One from Cervera who knew Joseph, said: let him go, I know him, he’s a worker, a laborer. Two militia men brought him back to his home at four in the morning. That morning Father Enrique was taken to the cemetery. According to a member of the militia, the execution was done: he had tied his hands with a red cord; before shooting him, he requested a moment to pray. It was granted. He knelt down, and taking time in prayer. The militia became frustrated and said:
Well, it’s already enough!
They told him to stand next to another priest from Gramuntell whom they were planning to killed, and he refused. Then they fired. It was August 25, 1936. Upon learning of the murder the Turull family offered a niche for burial and after a few steps, Enrique was buried in a niche of this family.