Born December 20, 1908 in Monreal (Navarra)
Professed August 15, 1925
Ordained a priest May 21, 1932
Shot October 19, 1936 in Mas Claret-Cervera (Lérida)
In the village of Monreal, located in the province of Navarre and Diocese of Pamplona, Julio Leache was born on December 20, 1908. His parents were Eugenio Leache, a foreman of road construction and Marcelina Labiano, a homemaker. He was baptized in the parish Church of the Nativity of Our Lady, the day following his birth. In this same parish, he would receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on April 26, 1909, by the Bishop of Pamplona.
The first years of studies would be in the town school. He appeared to apply himself in academics and was very well behaved. His Christian formation as in most families began in his home and in the parish. He proved to be a bright young man and exhibited a great strength of will.
In October 1920, he would enter the Postulancy of Alagón, where he began his studies in the Humanities with a great achievement. In 1922, when he was in his third year of studies, his father died in a accident at work.
Boarding a train at five in the morning, he moved from Alagon to Cervera in the summer of 1924, to begin the Novitiate. August 14th, was the first day of the test year under the guidance of Fr Ramón Ribera. The Master of Novices reported that he was careless and short-tempered, distracted and neglected his duties as the sacristan. He also didn’t focus on spirituality when conversing with his friend. Mortification was not a priority on his list of things to do and at times seemed to be insincere. On the other hand, he was merciful, compassionate, humble and docile. He received Tonsure and the four Minor Orders on June 21, 22 and 23, from the Bishop of Tarija, Bolivia. He made his First Profession on August 15, 1925.
Two days later, on August 17th, together with his companions, Julio moved to Solsona in a private car. In this city, he began his studies in Philosophy. In 1928, he would move on to Cervera to study Theology. While in Cervera, he received the Subdiaconate on January 24, 1932 from the Apostolic Administrator of Solsona. He would be ordained to the Diaconate on April 3, 1932, from the Apostolic Administrator of Barbastro, and the Priesthood in Solsona on May 21, 1932, from the Apostolic administrator of Solsona.
Professor of Philosophy and Theology
His first assignment was at the college of Solsona, where he arrived on August 23, 1932. His new role would be the of professor of Biblical Greek and the English Language, but instead of this, he was asked to teach mathematics, and be the assistant Prefect of Philosophers. At the same time, as a student of the fifth year of Theology, he would join a group of 14 classmates. In the following year, he was appointed professor of Metaphysics, Rubrics and preaching. At the same time one of the other professor’s fell ill, and he would have to also teach the Philosophy of history. After finishing the program in the summer of 1935, he was sent to Cervera as professor of fundamental Theology.
Despite the increasingly violent political situation with the revolutionaries, his sentiments to his brother was that he was not afraid of anything (March 14, 1936). In the final letter which he wrote to his mother on July 17, 1936, was that he arrived at his destination and expressed the belief in trusting in Providence:
“Don’t be surprised by the events that are happening; everything is subject to Divine Providence, and God takes care of the sparrows and the lilies of the field, as Our Lord said. How much more does He have for us Christians who are his children. I am extremely at peace. We are in the hands of the Superiors who are aware of what is happening; up to now, they have been able to free us from difficulties despite having encountered serious hazards. Of course we have prayed for the souls and the Catholic Church would not be harmed in circumstances so bitter; the Church as Jesus cannot die. In our Congregation we have already suffered enough especially in the southern part of the Peninsula, having had to close several houses and schools. In the Province of Catalonia to which I belong, we have only had to mourn the loss of two: those of Jativa and Requena in Valencia. But if circumstances do not change, it may be a few more schools.”
He was healthy hard working individual, noble, honest, strong tempered, at times rough, a little impulsive and could be aggressive. He worked hard to control his temper. He was a tenacious, constant, tireless as a worker and faithful in fulfilling his duties.
Had was very talented and exhibited good conditions for any job. As a student, he was editor of the magazine Palaestra Latina and extremely helpful with Father Jove in the drafting the Latin Dictionary. He had a appreciation of science. He liked speaking with other during breaks and walks about matters relating to studies and new projects.
In the afternoon of July 21, 1936, he left with most of the community towards Solsona and stayed in San Ramon because they were able to move through Tora. When the majority of missionaries escaped from this refuge, he generously stayed to help Fr. Ribe, Prefect of Postulants, to place them in various houses. Two days later on the 26th, recognizing the danger, he took refuge in the “Caseta de la Teula,” where four other missionaries had also gone into hiding. They were Father’s Bona and Martija and the Brothers Campo and Castillo. To see what was happening, he realized that it was the beginning of the end. They stayed in this shelter for two days. One night while sleeping in the forest, Fr. Ribe showed up. They were all alarmed, saying that there was a need to flee right away because some of the militia were coming into the forests in search of the missionaries of Cervera. Father Ribe proposed that they leave for Vic. On the night of July 28 to 29, they left in the direction of Calaf. So as not call attention to themselves, they divided into two groups within easy walking distance of each other. The first group was formed by Father’s Ribe and Leache and Brother Campo. They didn’t make it to their destination, or Calaf. It isn’t known what happened because they arrived at Mas Claret on the morning of August 2.
Father Leache didn’t want to go to Mas Claret, because he believed it to be a mousetrap. His intention was to go to Aragon, but the decision of the community was to listen to the Superior and he was Fr. Ribe. By now, Fr. Ribe was giving rise to the vocation to martyrdom. They could have tried to escape, but he didn’t want to abandon the sick who couldn’t move quickly. A heroic act of charity.
Father Leache also encouraged everyone not to fear martyrdom. He celebrated Mass, even against the protests of some, which they interpreted as a challenge to the Committee. He would say:
“If they kill us as fascists, sadly the grace which we’ll receive; but to die for celebrating Mass and being religious, that is martyrdom”.
“If we are martyred together and if I do not agree with the impression of the moment to give them absolution, remind me.”
In the afternoon of October 19, 1936, he was shot on the grounds of Mas Claret, then they cremated his body and buried his remains on the property.