Manuel Jove Bonet

Born on September 14, 1895 in Vallbona de las Monjas (Lérida)

Professed on August 15, 1912

Ordained a priest on May 28, 1926

Shot on July 26, 1936 in Lleida

 

Father Manuel Jove was born in Vallbona de las Monjas (Lérida) on September 14, 1895. He was baptized on September 17, at Santa Maria del Vallbona, Archbishopic of Tarragona. Shortly after he received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

His parents were Juan Jove, a laborer, and Mrs. Ramona Bonet, who formed a large family with seven children giving them a Christian education. Juan’s brother was also a Claretian missionary.[1]

In the summer of 1907, Manuel entered the Postulancy in Vic, where the Prefect was Father Gumersindo Valtierra. He excelled in the college course of humanities.

To make his Novitiate, he moved to Cervera on June 24, 1911. He received the habit on August 14th, of that same year under the direction of Father Mariano Fernández, making his Profession on August 15, 1912, taking temporary vows in the Congregation.

The school of Philosophy and Dogmatic Theology was in Cervera. His first Rite of Tonsure was on July 18, 1915. His Moral Theology studies was completed in Alagon, where he was in the summer of 1918 guided by his Prefect Blessed Felipe de Jesús Munárriz. In December of that year, the 12th and 13th, in accordance with the rules of the Code of Canon Law, he received the four Minor Orders at the hands of the His Excellency John Soldevila y Romero, Archbishop of Zaragoza. On June 14th, of the following year he was ordained to the subdiaconate. In Aragon, on August 31, 1919, he received the Diaconate of the hands of the same Archbishop. As the Archbishop was elevated to be a Cardinal, he was ordained as a priest on May 29, 1920 in Zaragoza.

On successful completion of his courses, he moved to Aranda de Duero (Burgos) on July 1, 1920, to use this year of preparation for the ministry. Holy Week of 1921, he preached in Montejo de la Vega de la Serrezuela (Segovia). On May 26, 1921, he would leave for Vic.

 

Professor of Latin and the Palaestra America

Assigned to the school, he dedicated himself to the teaching and study of Latin in a more scientific way. He excelled as a self-taught student. “He collaborated with success in the magazine “Alma Roma;” in the walks with Postulants from Vic and he was engaged in giving Latin names to new things; it was the base of the section “Nova et Vetera” one of our magazines Candidatus Latinus and Palaestra, a true school which formed several of our students.”[2]

In 1925, he was assigned to Cervera as professor of Latin syntax and care for the Postulants. This was his passion and happiness.

“As an assistant in the Theologate of Father Ramos, he would give the Thursday conference on the theme of civility…; Father Jove was limited to slight warnings, always repeating himself with so much grace, that he kept all in attendance intrigued… and this was a time when many presentations were dry.”[3]

Father Carlos Mesa from Zipaquira, Colombia, sent him some collaborations, that were not published in its entirety, because it was necessary to review and clarify the material which proved it was imposible to gather the information. Father Mesa offered to be transferred to Spain to work in the magazine and Father Jove answered on April 3, 1933: “Congratulations! But I won’t answer right now.”

But the situation was growing worse by leaps and bounds. In the last letter that is preserved, written June 2, 1936 concerning issues of Latin to Father Gregorio Martínez, resident in Segovia, states:

“Here we also have relative calm although we have already been processed and removed by the right-wing Town Council including our good friends. The first thing they want to do is take away part of the garden. Then other things would come. Let us ask God Our Lord and to the Divine Mother to confuse our enemies.”

On May 13, 1931, he wrote to his father asking for the address of a relative who lived in Cervera in order to save the books in case of the convents were burned.

In June 1936, he was sent to the Mas Claret as Vicar to replace Father Serrano, who had been sent to the infirmary in Cervera. Father Jove was working on the development of a Latin dictionary – Spanish of the Editorial Sopena with the help of some students; then the entire work would be passed to lay board to  be reviewed.

 

Qualities of a Good Religious, of exemplary conduct. Fulfilling their duties. Their cultural attributes were rather low.

 

Flight, detention and Calvary

On July 24, in the afternoon, he left the grounds of Mas Claret with 14 students mentioned above, in the direction of Vallbona de las Monjas, his hometown, a distance of some 25 kilometers. To avoid dangerous encounters with the militia groups, they had to make many detours, lengthening the distances. In the evening they arrived in Montornés, a village some eight kilometers from Cervera. They had come a long way. With several families they received food and shelter for the night.’

At dawn on the 25th, they were already on foot and found Don José Duch, who gave them water and oriented towards Bovera and Rocafort, because they didn’t want to use the road, and they were warned: When you come to the cross of Beneit Ramon take the path on the right. The leader of the group responded: when we are in the plains of La Bovera, we’ll know the way because I’ve been to Bovera twice to preach. Marching two by two at some distance from each other. By mid-morning they had reached the heights of Guimera and began descending to Bovera to reach the road that would take them to Rocafort de Vallbona, already quite close to the pre-set goal. Reaching the preset path they took the one on the left instead of the right within view of Ciutadilla. They passed through the road of Guimera to take the road of Rocafort. Ciutadilla is on a hillside from where you can observe everything, and even more in the morning on a sunny summer day. Seeing them pass, the people asked: Are you friars. Upon hearing this one was to the Committee. They went out looking and caught them.

Father Jove went to the house of Mr. Ignacio Miro an old friend to see how they could find a way to distribute the students to families in the village who were waiting some three kilometers from the town, but these were arrested.

The arrest was as follows. Father Jove left them in groups two to three kilometers from Rocafort. The last group that was in the light of Ciutadilla was surprised and therefore were arrested. They all were placed in chains and taken to the Socialist Center of Ciutadilla. They said they were going with Father Jove, who was in Rocafort in French. It was the house of Mr. Ignacio Miro, an old friend. They went there looking for him.

A friend told him that the Committee of Rocafort would be no problem because he was a friend of the Chairman of the Committee. He said he would do everything possible to save them and had already extended eight passes when the alarm has been presented in the village and a car with two individuals of the Committee of Ciutadilla, that had arrested students, and another one from San Marti de Malda which came looking for Father Jove. They asked for Mr. Miro, who was on the committee waiting for the passes, and asked:

What do you want?

Are there a few missionaries in your home? Asked Armengol, a member of the Committee of Rocafort.

In my home there is a man dressed like us who was a friend of my father and I don’t know whether he was a missionary or not, replied Mr. Miro.

We have to kill them all, said Armengol.

 

Mr. Miro went out to the street and found those from Ciutadilla asking for the fascists, not if they were missionaries. As he headed to the home of the Chairman of the Committee of Rocafort, he told him to move forward and help Father Jove escape. They told Father Jove to escape through the back door and that a servant would accompany him. When he was told that the students had been arrested, he refused turning around, not wanting to abandon the young people under his responsibility. He wanted to present himself thinking they might kill him, and free the students. He presented himself to those who were looking for him. Mr. Miro accompanied him and said to the outsiders:

These people you shouldn’t kill. And the priest: if you to return and want him you already know that he’s in my house and will be received.

They took the priest in the car to Ciutadilla at mid-morning, to the Socialist Center where the fourteen students were detained. The Committee forced some families to provide lunch, dinner, mattresses and linens so that they could sleep. They called the Committee of Cervera, which ignored the matter. Then they called those in Lérida, which sent some individuals who arrived at one in the morning of the 26th. Father Jove was writing his diary and was asked:

What are you writing?

A travel journal, he replied. They told him that it wasn’t true. They took the paper and as was written in Latin, saw it as an insult. One of the students was praying the Rosary. They asked him,

What’s that?

The Holy Rosary.

They threw it to the ground and forced him to step it. He said that he preferred to die and he was slapped. Seeing the Crucifix of Father Jove, they asked him who was it:

My God and my Lord.

The militia told him to throw it to the ground and step on it, and he flatly refused. In the face of this refusal he said,

Well then swallow it.

Forcing the Crucifix in his mouth, they violently punched him, and covering him the lips, vomiting a lot of blood.

They found some photographs that had some students, nuns, sisters, and those from Lleida said that they were the wives. The students said nothing and began to cry. Someone placed condoms in the case of Father Jove and the one from the registry of Lleida, said showing him: See it’s true? This martyrdom continued slaps and punches. They violently tore Father Jove pants and in an attempt to grab his genitals to mulilate him, when by chance one from the town arrived, he said – not that. They didn’t mutilate him but made a deep cut in the groin causing him lose a lot of blood, staining his underwear and sheets. All who wore crucifixes, rosaries and also cilice became subject of ridicule without question by the militia. A suffering that appeared to energize the executioners.

 

Way to the cemetery and martyrdom

 

Father Jove and the students, after hours of physical and moral pain, they were tied in pairs by the arms and legs, they were led down the steps of the Center, being kicked and punched. Once downstairs they were dragged to the truck that was waiting at the door after having requisitioned at three in the morning Don Jose Armengol Pollina, farmer of Guimera. It was now eight in the morning. Then they forced him to drive to Verdú. In front of the truck was a taxi full of militants and behind another car also occupied by more militants. In Verdú, they stopped in the plaza and the militants went to city hall, where they had lunch, but without forgetting the surveillance of the truck. The militia wanted to kill them there, but this was opposed by the President of the local Committee. Then, toward 11 in the morning, they resumed the journey in the direction of Lleida passing by Tárrega. When they arrived in the city, they were indecisive of what to do with the missionaries. Some of them thought of submitted them to the Committee but others believed it would be more operative to  take them directly to the cemetery, which was near.

Once at the gates of the cemetery, the militia wanted to drive the truck into the cemetery, but the one in charge opposed. The missionaries were made to get off the truck tied as they went. Father Jove was the last to get down and said to the students:

Kill us, but we will die for God. Long Live Christ the King!

None answered. All of the young men were silent, withdrawn. One of them said:

If I had known, I would have written to my family.

The militia replied by telling them that they had arrived late. They enter into the cemetery and some said:

Oh my!

Long Live Christ the King! Father Jove cried out three times during the journey.

When they got to the place of execution, the militia removed the ropes and asked if they wanted to die for God or for the Republic. None answered, but it all shouted

Long live Christ the King!

Then the first four were shot. They all died, but then the chief gave the coup de grace. Then another four more, then many others and finally to the remaining three. It was like two in the afternoon.

At the end of the murders the militia were satisfied. They told the driver of the truck that he could leave and away he drove—

Lets see if you bring more, it seems that in this country there are many.

None of the 15 missionaries had any document. They were buried in a common grave, called “pit of the martyrs.”

[1] Father  Martín Jové Martí, was born June 7, 1870; Professed March 9, 1888; Priest June 8, 1895; died May 3, 1947 in Dos Caminos, Venezuela.

[2] Pastor Redondo, J., Memories of our Martyr from Cervera, p. 10,APC 4 2 1102.

[3] Pastor Redondo, J., Memories of our Martyr from Cervera, p. 11,APC 4 2 1102.