Born August 14, 1907 in Castelltersol (Barcelona)
Professed August 15, 1924
Ordained a priest June 21, 1931
Shot July 25, 1936 in Sallent
Father Jaime Payas was born on August 14, 1907, in Castelltersol (Barcelona) and was baptized three days later in the parish of San Frutuoso, in the Diocese of Vic. A few years later he would receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
His parents were Don José Payas, a shopkeeper, and Dona Antonia Fargas, a housewife. They had 7 sons, Jaime was the youngest of the children. In his home he received a Christian education which he describes as “outstanding family formation.” In the family, his religious vocation flourished. In fact, his older brother Feliciano and the second brother Joseph, preceeded him as Claretian Missionaries.
He entered the Congregation in 1919, when he was 12 years old. In the postulancy of Vic he would begin his studies in Humanities. For the next four years he demonstrated extraordinary talents and his great desire for holiness under the wise guidance of his Prefect, Father Jaime Girón, who also would become a martyr.
In the summer of 1923, he went to Cervera to begin the Novitiate, which was on August 14, under the direction of Fr Ramón Ribera. He made his First Profession on August 15, 1924.
His Philosophical studies were in Cervera, proved to be easy. The first year would be in Cervera and the remaining two years in Solsona. At the end of the second year, along with four other philosophers, three of them martyrs, they accomplished with brilliance the matriculation examinations at the Institute of Lérida.
His Theological studies would begin in Solsona. In October, he would receive Tonsure and the Minor Orders from the Diocesan Bishop. The remaining years of Theology would take place in Cervera. In the month of September 1928, he sent a letter to the Deputy Director General offering to go to the missions. “And this offer is for any place and ex officio, as I see in other places I will be able to give great glory to God and do something that is directly for the salvation of souls, with regard to China, this has been an occasion to manifest that offer.” His zeal for the missions, the Chinese being sinners was a dream which was inspiried in him during his first year of Postulancy and promoted by Father Jaime Girón.
In the year 1930, his father died which was a situation that he faced with courage giving comfort to his family, especially his mother because his missionary brothers were far away.
In Solsona on May 30, 1931, he received the Subdiaconate and the following day he was ordained to the Diaconate. The following month, on June 21, he would be ordained to the Priesthood from the Apostolic Administrator of Solsona. He completed ecclesiastical studies and began his career in Barcelona. He completed the theoretical part of his formation in 1934.
The next course was the year of practice which took place in the School of Rosellon-Balmes Street, with the Jesuits. He seemed to excel when it came to artistic and theatrical Works. By doing well, he was able to get a substitute and go to Sallent as a Master teacher of the Claretian school from the course year 1935-1936. He was also made Minister of the house.
A problem that caused him much concerned was the call of the army. He was lucky because there were seven brothers who volunteered thus making quota. Also by paying off some officers, he was able to forfit going to the barracks.
Qualities and Virtues
The virtues of Father Payas can be discovered through the works he accomplished in the first year of his Postulancy.
As has been said before, he had great artistic and intellectual qualities, especially pictorial, which cost him some distaste for the misunderstanding of others. Maybe that is why some colleagues accused him of being vain, to be a charlatan. What is certain is that from the beginning he tried to correct these faults and showed his desire to be holy. He tried what he could to be cautious in talking and not make rash judgments. He would frequently turn to others asking about his faults in the fight against vanity.
He was a man of deep piety that was nurtured with frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Also frequent exercises of mortification of the senses, especially of taste. He was very devoted to the Virgin of Sorrows and of the Rosary.
He liked to make the most of the time of study and save the silence in his room. He was keen to acquire a good formation.
He was a religious observant, compliant with all its obligations. Obedient all ways.
In his short life, he practiced with assiduity his priestly ministry in the confessional.
Dispersion of the community and shelter
At the outbreak of the Revolution, Father Payas sought refuge like the rest of the community and went to the house together with Father Capdevila, Superior. They carried a number of liturgical objects in a bag and took refuge in the house of Don José Soldevila Rabeya and Mrs. Rosario Subira Arumí, who live on the Calle Cos, #12, which was a pastry shop. There they had dinner with the family. Don José hid the bag in one of the rooms of the ground floor of the pastry shop. The priests also had a ciborium with Communion, but kept it close to them. Shortly after the brother-in-law of Mrs. Rosario alerting them of the danger which the priests were facing. Then they decided to go to the home of his mother, Mrs. Rosa Rabeya, a widow from Soldevila. So they moved to the Calle de Santa Cristina. As they entered the Street, a child of the school recognized Father Payas, but the priest was also recognize by other people who had been on the street, and the truth would come to the committee. Upon learning of this, Mrs. Subira went back to the house of her mother-in-law to warn them of the danger and going out to the garden, they took refuge in the basement of the house of Torras, where they spent the night of the 20th and 21st.
In the morning of the 21st, they returned to the House of Mrs. Rosa. After eating, a patrol knocked on the door and the owner was able to stop them on the staircase and convince them that there were no weapons, while both priests jumped down and took refuge in the basement. Father Payas could not endure that concealment much longer. He was beginning to feel claustrafobic. He came out of hiding and went to the dining room, where in conversation with another refugee, he expressed his desire for martyrdom:
“We shouldn’t be like that, we should be brave. It hurts me to hide, because I like to appear publicly as a priest and with my head held high.”
In this conversation that lasted about two hours, he also said that:
“he loved the death of St. Peter Mártir, praying the Creed as he bled, and writing on the ground when he could no longer speak, with the drops of his blood.”
A little later Father Capdevila would arrive and informed them of some things, including the desecration of the house and temple. Then the priests, in reparation placed the Blessed Sacrament on the dining table.
In the evening the militiants arrived to document the registry. The owner opened the door dressed in black being a widow. The militia members felt that this was a priest and shot wounding her in the arm. The priests, who were having dinner, when they heard the shot, escaped through the garden and separated in different directions. Two hours later Father Capdevila returned looking for Father Payas and escaped because the militia were still there attending to Mrs. Rosa. Then the son of Mrs. Rosa with the helped a flashlight went looking for Father Payas, who was found on the banks of the River Llobregat stuck in the mud up to his waist without being able to free himself and hide in a basement that night.
On the 22nd, the miliants arrived to register information at the pastry shop and confirmed that they knew where Father Payas was hiding. He was sick with fever. They immediately went to warn him and tell him to escape. The Father accepted the will of God and was willing to suffer martyrdom and death. But Mrs. Rosa and her son Joseph had to convince him to leave the house and look for a new shelter. To this end, a nephew of Mrs. Rosario was walking a little ahead and when the Father saw the door open of a friend, Cal Clotet, who had two boys at the school. He entered the home without the boy who was guiding him. There he spent the night of the 22nd.
Day 23. He arrived in the morning of the family home. Father Payas searched for other houses till mid-day for refuge. He was also denied hospitality because of the risk that it presented, until he came to the house Busquets. He was invited to eat but only accepted a small snack to quench his thirst, because he was sick with a fever.
Arrest and martyrdom
A short time later, around three in the afternoon, some militiants presented themselves at the house calling loudly. The family told the priest to hide in the woodshed, which opens onto the garden. The persecutors would not leave until they found him. Joining hands in submission and compliance with the will of God, the priest was taken to the Town Council. Here he was locked in the administration room. The Committee head, Mr. Juan Dalmau, upon entering found Father Payas sitting in a chair. He approached him and with a gesture of friendship placed his hand to the shoulder. Father Payas immediately reacted by saying:
I thought you were going to kill me, but now I think I have fallen in good hands.
Dalmau replied that he was a simple municipal employee and that there was little he could do on their behalf. The Father expressed the desire to write to his mother and Dalmau provided what was needed and promised that the letter would reach its destination. Also took his book of prayer, the breviary.
The letter from Fr Payas to his mother said:
July 23, 1936. Sra Antonia Fargas. Very dear mother: four lines. Look, it doesn’t look like but I am arrested. But luckily, I have fallen into the hands of someone I trust. I’ll be eight or ten days in jail, but safe, because they have seen that I have nothing to do with the fascists.
Goodbye mother and sisters, I extend a blessing from the heart. We will meet soon, and if not then in heaven.
Goodbye, your child who loves you from the heart, Jaime Payas.
The employee to save the Father because he saw no other way suggested that he should show adherence to the Revolutionary principles and distancing himself from the religious Institutes and of the Church. Father Payas refused to lie and accept its consequences. When leaving he gave a hug to Dalmau and said:
Until heaven, answered the priest.
Then Dalmau said that he didn’t believe in those things. The priest answered:
I will pray to God that in heaven we find each other.
Until tomorrow if I encounter you here.
In the final writings, Father Payas fully accepts martyrdom and forgive all:
“Thank you God! I suffer for you. Of these sufferings I endured with true joy and spiritual happiness, I will draw many lessons, the first of which was to have the taste of the disappointment of friends.
I will not trust in the people, only you, oh Jesus Christ! You have the words of eternal life. The men when they are needed most is when they fail more and turn their back. What they did with you the teacher, it is fair to do so with me, your disciple. Lord, I’ve seen more heart and more guts in those whom I did not expect, that falsely friend who didn’t have more interest than his pocket and his belly. Hard lesson, but that is very real and that will be recorded in the spirit.
Oh Jesus, forgive all that want evil for me and give them a hug of friendship; I don’t have a grudge against anyone, to which I have been kicked out of their homes like a dog. I love all as a brother, as myself, as you send me to do the same. These are my feelings in these hours of tribulation. Everything is for you. Jesus, I adore you. Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I want to imitate you. Your son and servant, Jaime Payas.”
Day 24. The committee wanted to win him over for the Revolutionary cause because of his status as a National leader and prepared for what they insisted that he accept the release that they proposed, which required that he reject his condition and he replied:
Tomorrow, my Saints day, I will be in heaven. This was his acceptance of martyrdom.
The same day he was found with Father Mercer and Brothers Mur and Binefa. They were taken prisoners to also make a declaration before the committee. He followed the same fate as the other three. They were shot in the cemetery of Sallent on July 25, 1936, the feast of St. James the Apostle.