John Buxo Font

Buxo, Juan

Born October 24, 1879 in Moncada (Barcelona)

Professed January 25, 1915

Ordained a priest September 18, 1920

Shot October 18, 1936 in Cervera (Lèrida)


Father John Buxo was born in Moncada, Barcelona, on October 24, 1879. He was baptized in the parish of Santa Engracia de Moncada on October 28. His parents were Don José Buxo, a physician and surgeon, and Mrs. Catherine Font. They had nine children, five of whom died as infants. The remaining children, three daughters and John, all becoming religious. John’s academic and Christian formation took place in Moncada. On Sunday afternoons, he attended catechesis taught by Pastor. The teacher from the municipal school would accompany the children to Mass on Sundays. At the age of 10, Juan  made his First Holy Communion.

In September 1890, shortly before turning 11, he began the International Baccalaureate program at the College of the Piarist Fathers in Sabadell, where he had a maternal aunt in whose house he lived from Monday to Saturday. He attended mass at the college along with other duties. Finishing high school in the summer of 1895, his father asked him: What do you want to be?

“I want to be like you; I want to be a doctor to help you,” John said.

By then his father already had some health problems, and his mother was in a delicate state and he was the only man to take care of the home.


In the Faculty of Medicine

In October 1895, he began the application of actual studies of medicine, which consisted of a six year program. The atmosphere was total discipline. The exemplary conduct of Buxo contrasted with that of many fellow classmates. He was seen by his peers as one of the most competent in science. In the long-term course which consisted of 97 students, he received the internship in the Hospital of Santa Cruz, who only choose the most capable. He was called because in addition to attending the classes at the College, he went to the hospital to practices under the direction of professors. Every Saturday, he would returned to Moncada. His good mother reminded him not to cease to pray the Holy Rosary and confess once a month. Then he became a member of the Marian Congregation of the Jesuits. He lived with a certain detachment from the world because that didn’t reflect his character. His virtue was notorious, so much so that his classmates called him Doctor Castus but recognized that he was happy and jovial.


Doctor of Moncada

In 1902, he won the title of Bachelor in medicine and surgery and returned to his home of Moncada. During the early years he assisted his father, until May 1908, he was officially given the plaza de Moncada. Life in the village was simple, dedicated to his religious and profesional duties. He attended Mass daily and practiced other devotions, such as spiritual retreats with all his family. Buxo never knew what it was to waste time. He was also very austere in eating. He became a Dominican Tertiary, as his entire family.  A facet of Dr. Buxo, doctor of Moncada, was his dedication to the Catalan language magazine Esperanto. In this field he deployed notable activity, publication of several articles in the magazine Katoliko Kataluna and he participated in the International Congress.  He was distinguished by his simplicity and modesty, although he was elegant.


Religious in Cervera

According to his biographer, Dr. Buxo was a mature religious vocation. His tendency of recollection and austerity made him consider a contemplative Order, but his Spiritual Director said that there would be a need for workers and to consider a Congregation. The director presented various Institutes and Dr. Buxo decided on the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary because of the humility and simplicity of the Institute.  January 13, 1914, 34 years old, he entered the Novitiate in Cervera. His Novice Master was Fr. Ramón Ribera. In spite of the age, he conformed well to the strict regulation of the Novitiate with young men, because there wasn’t any exemption or wanted privileges. Noted for his simplicity, humility and moritficacion, he was almost heroic. His companions appreciated him and sensed he was guided by the Holy Spirit.  He made his First Profession on January 24, 1915.

The ecclesiastical studies were not easy due to the lack of prior preparation and his age. Though it was not appropriate to learn things from memory, his determination and political views were strong. During the summer of 1915, he attempted to study metaphysics, but had to leave it for a regular course. On July 18, he received Tonsure and the four Minor Orders. In the summer of 1916, he went to Alagon to study Moral Theology, and after two years he returned to Cervera to study Dogmatic Theology. He received the Subdeaconate on March 20, 1920, in Lleida from His Excellency José Miralles, Bishop of Lleida; on May 29, he was ordained a Deacon by Bishop Valentine’s Day Comellas, and on September 19, ordained a priest. Singing his first Mass in the chapel of the infirmary of Cervera, he inspiried his patients.


Teacher, confessor and doctor

His biographer commented that the confessional and the art of Asclepius was a synthesis of Dr. Buxo’s life. During 1920-1921, he was professor of mathematics in Cervera and in the successive courses of Natural History, Anatomy, Physiology and Moral Theology. He had no special pedagogical formation, but the atmosphere of the college was best for him and his love of work. It was demanding during the academic year 1920-1921, but because of the students but he seemed to excel. His system was to explain all the words in the text in such a way that everything made sense.

After ordination his medical services were still needed. There was a significant improvement in the health of many students. His professional competence was recognized by all, especially by the doctors of Cervera. They preferred to be cared for by Father Buxo. As Dr. Nuix said: “he was very competent and talented in medicine. Everything new in his field he studied and was aware of the latest news, more than any other professional.” Dr. Martinez confirmed: “He was a great pathologist, concise and almost without exaggeration. He had a clear knowledge of the disease and didn’t shunned to give counsel with great success.” He was also a great confessor. For several years he was regular confessor in the Church of San Antonio. To comply with this obligation, he would rise before the community. He had a great intuition to penetrate in the psychology of the penitent, and was always on time. His style was simple and practical to promote virtue among the simple people. He inculcated the fulfillment of the proper duties and the practice of the home.


Spiritual landscape

He was a practical man with simple ideas, not to speculative, but an active temperament. For him time was important. He like things to be in order which was perhaps the most characteristic feature of his personality. But he wasn’t a slave of the regulations. Concerning acts of piety, he would say: “God must not be stiffling for even a second.” Some nicknamed him as “Son of Don Segundo,” for his mathematical precision in everything, even in meditation. Some tried to imitate him, but to no avail. He was also an ascetic in his religious life. The climate and the spiritual environment was a call to heroism. In this perspective, he stood out for his austerity and observance of the rules. His inclination to penance was great and his mortification at meals. While in the Novitiate, he said: Don’t complain about it being cold or heat, nor moral or physical fatigue, or lack of memory…. In the convent, he responded to the calls to assist the sick at all hours of the night. Another aspect of his austerity was poverty. He was detached from everything before entering the Institute. The use of money wasn’t essential for him. An example; Father Superior of Cervera was looking for a collector of Masses and suggested that it be Father Buxo. He refused because of the money management.

He was also a very pious man. The acts of community and the manifestation of his great love for his vocation to the Institute showed his concern. His daily examination of conscience governed his life as a religious. For him there was no mediocrity. His was simplicity and humility.


Shelter in the Hospital of Cervera and martyrdom

When the community was dispersed by the Revolutionary force on July 21, 1936, he took refuge for two days with Jaime Girón at La Fonda in Barcelona. They celebrated Mass in the church of San Agustin, behind closed doors, but only wearing the cassock with the community of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. After being expelled from the community and the insecurity of a public pension, he took refuge in the hospital on July 23 .The Hospital Board appointed Father Buxo as doctor on call. He was with the other Claretians along with other men and women Religious in two adjacent rooms of the upper floor of the building. One of them served as a bedroom and the other to celebrate Mass and prayers. In addition they had a small room where they kept the Blessed Sacrament. Father Buxo had his own room as doctor on call.

The Missionaries tried their best to live a cloistered community life.  During their stay in the hospital they were all threatened to be shot. The students, Priests and Brothers were led out of the hospital on October 17, 1936, by Juan Solé, Enrique Ruana, the Magi Tita and a Gómez alias the boy. Enrique Ruana had been under the care for a month by Dr. Buxo and hated Religion. He was known for the murders of many priests and religious. The shots were heard perfectly from the Hospital. Sister Maria Orobitg became frightened and immediately communicated the news:

Father, they killed the priests!

He replied that he had heard the shots and added:

What could we do? They’re martyrs. Praise be to God!

Not even an hour passed after the shooting and they went looking for him.

To Ruano who had cured by Father Buxo said:

You too?

Boarding the truck Ruana said: Where do you want to be the shot?

Wherever you want,” said Father Buxo.

In addition, Father Buxo urged his murderers to conversion and offered a reflection to Sole, which took into account the fact that after this life there is another. To which he replied that he did not believe in God and that he did not want to be converted. He was taken to the cemetery by the same killers in the second group, with three laity in the early hours of October 18, 1936, in which they were shot while shouting, “Long Live Christ the King!