Born January 4, 1914 in Echarri Echauri (Navarra)
Professed August 15, 1932
Shot October 19, 1936 in Mas Claret-Cervera (Lérida)
In the town of Echarri Echauri, within the province of Navarro, on January 4, 1914, Antonio Elizalde Garbisu was born. He was the last of eight brothers born to Don Cándido Elizalde, a builder by profession and Maria Garbisu, a homemaker. He was baptized on the same day of his birth in the parish Church of Santa Eulalia. In this same parish, he would receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on June 15, 1915, by the Bishop of Pamplona.
In the summer of 1927, he would enter the Congregation beginning his Postulancy in Alagon, where he had as a Prefect, Fr. Jose Ribe. In Alagon, he would begin his studies of Humanities and complete the program in Cervera in 1929. Father Ribe also left Alagon with this group of students when they moved to Cervera. On July 28, 1931, he would move to Vic to begin the Novitiate. Father Paul Jansa would be the Novice Master. After completing a year of study and prayer he would make his First Profession on August 15, 1932.
Two days after his Profession, in rented car along with his companions, he moved to Solsona to pursue the study of Philosophy. His family, like many of the students families was worried about their fate because the political situation was increasingly revolutionary and violent. On two occasions, he wrote that he was not afraid and even more, that he wanted to die a martyr. In the second letter, he commented on the Revolution of Asturias and the turmoil of Catalonia. On December 2, 1934, he writes:
“… Allow me to tell you which in any way might make you worry.
In the first place, you are aware of the Revolutionary Coup’s that have taken place in some parts of Spain, especially in Asturias and Catalonia. Not being prepared, we were told of the news that the Catalan Republic had declared their independence. Before hearing this news, we were not alarmed because as the city of Solsona is so peaceful and Christian, it hasn’t felt the effects of the Revolutionary movement. In a short period of time, some alarming news reached us about the struggle in the city of Barcelona. These problems were initiated between the Revolutionaries and the Army, thanks to which we are free. While the force of the Army prevailed in all the towns and cities of the province, they began to burn Churches and attacking priests who really are the innocent victims of these disorders. As I said before, here nothing happened. Thank God this was a matter of a few days because soon they were giving up their weapons. With a little more time, they could have overcome the Revolutionaries. We have also been the victims of these events and perhaps like so many others, especially in Asturias, we would have had the opportunity to die martyrs for the faith in Jesus Christ.”
At the end of August 1935, Antonio left the quiet town of Solsona and arrived in Cervera to begin his studies of Theology. Now he only had four years left to become a priest, as he sighed. “I am still awaiting the fulfilment of my desires in this world, the Ordination to the Priesthood. To that, I have directed all of my studies, all of my life, because everything else is little in comparison to prepare for the dignity so lofty, that the world doesn’t recognize.”
At the same time, while reflecting on the priesthood, he is thinking of martyrdom. Mid-March 1936, he writes a letter to his sister Camino:
“I’m no longer afraid of martyrdom. Before I considered it as the greatest grace that I may receive in this world”.
Qualities: He was considered an average student but had a great talent for music. At times he could be thoughtless and had his small faults, but he was docile, honest and of good character.
As most of the students from the community of Solsona on July 21, 1936, his first plan was to move through Tora, with the intentions of finding refuge in San Ramon. Two days later he ended up at Mas Claret. Here he stayed with those who were on the run with him and the others who arrived later. On October 19, he was shot with many other missionaries.