José Arner Margalef

Arner Margalef, Josep

Born September 3, 1892 in Alcolea de Cinca (Huesca)

Professed September 8, 1908

Ordained a priest July 17, 1916

Martyred August 7, 1936 in San Saturnino de Osormort (Barcelona)

 

Father Arner was born on September 3, 1892, in Alcolea de Cinca (Huesca) and baptized three days later at the parish of St. John the Baptist of the town belonging to the Diocese of Lleida. He would receive the Sacrament of Confirmation in the same parish. His parents were Don Antonio Arner, a laborer and Mrs. Josefa Margalef. They had eight children of which Arner was the fourth.

He entered in the Postulancy of Barbastro on July 27, 1903, and his Prefect was Father Felipe de Jesús Munárriz. Two years later Father Ramón Ribera would take the place as Prefect. During these years he would complete his studies in Humanities with extraordinary results and having exceptional intellectual qualities. All his grades earned the Meritissimus Maior.

In the summer of 1907, he would move onto Cervera for the Novitiate. Beginning the year of studies on September 7th, while his companions started on  August 30th, because at that time he want not of canonical age. His Master of Novices was Father Mariano Fernández. He would make his First Profession on September 8, 1908.

His Philosophical and Theological studies would be completed in the school of Cervera, with notable achievement, although during the philosophical studies program, he frequently was ill, which prevented him from studying with assiduity. At the end of the second year of Philosophy, he would receive Tonsure and the Minor Orders. In 1915, he went to Alagron to begin his classes in Moral Theology. In Alagon, he received the orders of Subdiaconate on June 20, 1915, and the Diaconate on July 11th. He would be ordained a Priest on June 17, 1916, from the hands of the Archbishop of Zaragoza. In 1916, he attended the Colegio Máximo de Aranda de Duero for the year of preparation in ministry.

From Aranda he would move to Cervera as Professor of logic and metaphysics. In 1918, he was assigned to Alagon as Auxiliary Prefect of Moralists and preacher. After the triennium he would be sent to Carthage, where he lived until 1925. Then was to Requena, and later was appointed Superior of Alagon, for the triennium 1928-1931. During this time he developed a notable apostolic program with the Popular Missions and other sermons. At the end of the triennium, he was appointed Prefect of Theologians and Moralists students in Cervera. In January 1934, he moved on to Vic as Master of Novices. He was surprised by the active religious persecution in this city.

 

Religious virtues

Excellent, very observant, for some he was seen as very demanding and rigorous. Is exemplary and very hard working despite the fact that his health was not always strong. As Superior, he was zealous for the good of his subjects.

 

Dispersion of the community and flight on

On the evening of July 20th, as he left home with Father Casto Navarro and the 31 Novices, all wearing their cassock and the Postulants by order of Father Superior in escape plan, although critized because the Civil Guard had given their word. They went to the Masia Pratdesaba, near the castle of Saladeures, where they settled for the night. Before dinner he prayed the Rosary with the family living there.

The next morning he celebrated Mass in the chapel of the castle with the assistance of residents and visitors. He had to leave that house for its proximity to the highway on the 21st, and for the next few days it was like a dream rambling through the forests, deprived of everything and sleeping in the open until the Committee, through the intercession of godly people, allowed him to return to Vic on the 28th.

During those days, Father Arner was responsable for the care of food and spiritual well-being of the whole group of Novices. Every day they all participated in pious practices, but with more fervor. He inculcated that all of them should be proud to be pursued in the name of Christ and that this was a very large grace. On the 25th, the feast of St. James the Apostle, he took advantage of the second point of meditation to exalt the glory of the Apostle, being the first to shed his blood for Christ and to encourage everyone to suffer martyrdom if necessary.

Father Arner main intent was to go to France with the students, for which the 26th, he sent Brother Rubio to Vic to talk with the Superior Father Manuel Mascaró but was unable to get his permission. The next day he sent Father Navarro, who was unable to return to the group.

 

Detention, imprisonment and martyrdom.

On the 28th,  in the afternoon they returned to Vic in a bus that two women, Angela, and Josefa Camarasa had rented after obtaining the “pass” from the committee for the Novices. Father Arner was warned not to travel with the Novices because the danger to his life, but he said that he could not abandon them in virtue of his office. The bus was stopped in the control booth located on the bridge of Calldetenas, where their identity was discovered by the warning of the driver, but for more security a militiant followed them. They were brought before the Committee.

The interrogation was going well, until a character entered shouting with harsh words: where are so many friars and nuns going? Indeed, there were nuns who were waiting for some the passes. From that moment, the whole situation changed.

Who is the head of this crew? Continued the newcomer.

Am I, answered Father Arner.

This earned him rude insults and treatment with pushing and shoving. The Novices were set free and Father Arner was taken to the old barracks, where Father Navarro was already confined. They spent a few hours together, until at about eleven in the evening when theywere brought to jail.

In the prison they were separated. Father Arner was unsure where he was taken, but the next morning he offered Father Navarro and Mr. Rial his towel to wash and the breakfast that was left over. On the 29th, they were moved to a new  cell and the priests were placed in neighboring cells, so that they could communicate with ease. The other prisoners reported that Father Arner appeared silent and thoughtful and didn’t communicate with the others. That way of being was quickly noticed. He liked to walk alone when in the cloistered, dedicating himself to prayers and meditations. He ate very little and the little he ate would make him sick and caused him to throw up.

One day, talking with another priest who had been arrested, he said:

Today I have meditated in the prayer of Jesus in the Garden.

And by meditating on the crucifixion and death of Jesus, by what might happen,” replied the other priest.

For if anyone had forgotten the danger they were facing, the militia would remind them every day, mainly when bring food, which was the time of the insults and threats. So they repeated the refrain:

If we knew what you are friars, we’d kill you right now.

On the night of August 7th, the two priests were taken from their cells and shot, as has been reported by one who was there. It was also confirmed by the jailer and a pious lady who carried food to the priests.

On the 8th, two corpses were seen on the road from Vic to San Hilario in the Municipality of San Saturnino de Osormort (Barcelona).