John Codinach Espinalt

Codinach Espinalt, Joan

Born May 28, 1872 in Mura (Barcelona)

Professed March 19, 1903

Ordained a priest June 12, 1897

Shot October 12, 1936 in Malla (Barcelona)


Fr John Codinach was born on May 28, 1872 at Mura (Barcelona) and was baptized in the parish Church of San Martin de Mura, Diocese of Barcelona. His parents were José Codinach, a manufacturer and Dona Antonia Espinalt. He studied Humanities and Philosophy at the Diocesan Seminary of Vic and Theology at the Diocesan Seminary of Barcelona.

He was ordained a priest on June 12, 1897, and immediately appointed Curate at the Villa de Esparraguera, where he remained for three years. Then he was transferred to San Baudilio de Llobregat also as Curate. He would then move to Barcelona and subsequently to San Juan de Gracia, where his religious-missionary vocation matured.

In the years 1903-05, he published in the Hormiga de Oro some books or translations of books such as, for example: Opiniones de los filósofos sobre el infierno, La libertat politica y el patriotisme by Bautain.

Not satisfied with the parish life, he chose the religious life. The Superior of the house of Gracia (Barcelona), encouraged him to enter the Novitiate of the missionaries. It was in Cervera where he would begin the Novitiate on March 18, 1906, under the direction of Fr Mariano Fernández. On March 19, 1907, he would make his First Profession. There he would stay as Assistant Novice Master.


A missionary in the Chocó

In 1908, the Holy See erected the Apostolic Prefecture of Chocó (Colombia) with an evangelization program and counted with the collaboration of the Claretian Missionaries. The first group left Barcelona on November 11, 1908 in the Manuel Calvo steamer composed of Father’s Martin Alsina, Superior General, Juan Gil, the first Prefect Apostolic of Chocó, some other Priests and Brothers. Father Codinach was unable to acquire a passage. He was in the second expedition. It sailed from Barcelona on December 11, 1908, and arrived at the port of Sabanilla (Colombia) on January 14, 1909. From Sabanilla to Barranquilla and on to Cartagena, where they met with the first group. Together the went to Quibdó on February 14, 1909.

Father Codinach was appointed Consultant and Prefect of Spirituality while the local Superior was the Apostolic Prefect. In his apostolic travels, there were many difficulties and challenges which would cause him to gro through long periods outside the community. He was able to see the great pastoral needs that awaited him. In almost all the places he would administer Baptisms, prepare Marriages and organized the catechesis, since the visits of the priests were lost. He showed great zeal and enthusiasm for evangelization. He also saw the great difficulties that the climate presented for their health, as some of the missionaries died after a year and a half of being there and others had to leave there to save their life. The same happened to Father Codinach.


Return to Spain

In August 1912, for health reasons, he had to return to Catalonia. He was assigned to the community of Berga, where he was assigned with the post as librarian and preacher.

In 1915, he was transferred to Vic where he remained until his death. During his stay in this city, he published some sermons during the years 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924 in the journal The Messager Sagrat Cor de Jesus. Beginning in 1927, he  published some reflections, poems and translations in La Festa Santificada, under the pseudonym Joan de Mura.


Qualities and Virtues

The reports of all coincide in affirming that it was very good religious, observant and exemplary. He tended to be somewhat humble. A model of docility and submission.

His character was introspective. After he was defined as very eccentric, almost useless for ministry.

He had a great zeal for the salvation of souls, while as a preacher, he was very ordinary.


Shelter and martyrdom

Father Codinach left the convent on July 20, 1936, in the afternoon along with Father’s Arner and Navarro, the Novices and students with the hope of leaving town. On July 24th, he went to the Masia Vivet with Brother Costa, where he stayed until his arrest.

During his stay in this house, he trusted in Divine Providence. But there was the constant threat of the Revolutionaries. He prayed the three parts of the rosary with the family who accepted him into their home and shared the spiritual reading. He left a great example of trust in Divine Providence:

“If the Committee would arrive now and take us, it would be the will of God, because an hour doesn’t go by without His permission.”

On August 13th, the Revolutionaries of the Committee of Taradell came looking to see the missionaries. Father Codinach was asked:

Who are you?

I’m Juan Codinach

Where are you from?

I’m from Mura

Do you have money in a savings?


He then told the missionaries not to move from the place or the life of the owner would be harmed.

They were there until October 8th, in which together with Father Codina and Brother Casals, the militiants led them to the prison of Vic. Father Codinach was recognized when getting out of the car at the prison. They were there was until eleven at night or in the early morning of 12th,  when with Father Codina, they were shot on the road to Barcelona within the Municipality of Malla. They were buried in the cemetery.