Born November 7, 1909 in Torello (Barcelona)
Professed February 11, 1926
Ordained a priest May 21, 1932
Shot July 26, 1936 in Lleida
Father Francisco Javier Surribas was born on November 11, 1909 in Torello, in the province of Barcelona. His parents were Don Jaime Surribas, a merchant, and Mrs. Maria Dot. They had three children of which two were Claretian Missionaries, the eldest, Father Luis and Francisco Javier. The following day he was baptized in the parish Church of San Feliu de Torelló, in the diocese of Vic. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation on February 6, 1911, by the Bishop of Vic.
In 1920, he entered the Postulancy in Vic, and his Prefect was Fr. Jaime Girón. During the first three years of Humanities he had remarkable grades. In 1924, he would join his older brother in Cervera. In the letters that then wrote to his mother and sister, he shared that he felt very comfortable and happy in the seminary. The next day he would be on his way to Solsona with classmates to study Philosophy. In a letter he wrote to his mother on November 28, 1926, he shared that Philosophy proved to be easy.
In 1928, he went to Cervera to study Theology. In June 1929, he received Tonsure and the four Minor Orders. In 1931, he moved to Barcelona to study Moral Theology and Law because the weather was favorable to his health. Soon he would return to Cervera. Here received the Subdiaconate on January 24, 1931. On April 3rd, he was ordained to the Diaconate. The following month, on May 20th, he moved from Cervera to Solsona to be ordained to the priesthood on the 21st. He received permission to go to his hometown to celebrate Mass and preach.
In mid-August of 1933, he moved to Aranda de Duero to take the course of preparation for the ministry. The trip lasted 20 hours! A trip had many changes of trains and different lines. The last one being from Ariza-Valladolid. In February 1934, he wrote to the Superior General offering to go to the Missions in China. Over the course of preparation and of sermons, he was assigned to the house of Sallent, where he arrived on June 23, 1934. That the end of the summer he would be sent to La Selva del Campo as a preacher. Before he unpacked his bags, he was asked to go to Cervera as a teacher. But in January 1935, he was sent back to La Selva del Campo as the organist and preacher. He implimented great apostolic activity with the people of the region and with great zeal.
Dispersion of the community, flight and martyrdom
In consideration of the political situation which was increasingly confusing and dangerous, the community of La Selva del Campo saw the need “to horde as much of what was needed to avoid any type of danger.
Receiving alarming news, one of the neighbors of the town saw the need to take refuge in various houses around the town.”
July 21, 1936. All the Priests and Brothers had to get out of the house because they had been warned that the militia were going to storm the Church at night. Father Surribas along with students Miguel Bertolin and Juan Costa spent that night in a cottage on the outskirts of Selva. The next morning they thought of going to Reus and stopping in the small village of Almoster where they were well received by the Pastor. But the three missionaries were warned that a mob of young Libertarians were on their way and had to flee. Father Surribas took the Blessed Sacrament from the Church and with his companions went to the mountain where they remained until the 24th, hidden in a cottage. The Leftist owner of the cabin told them that they would have to leave.
If they kill you, then you go to heaven, but if I protect you, they kill me. What will happen to my family?
They walked throughout the day toward the mountains of Prades, where they spent the night and received Communion for the last time. They went to the Riba where Juan Costa could get tickets. One of the Committee member accompanied Father Surribas, Bertolin and where they were received very well by the chairman of the Committee. He gave them food, clothes and pointed them to a hut where to spend the night, promising them tickets for the following day. The president honored his word and at eight in the morning of the 26th, they took the train to Lleida, although Father Surribas could have taken the train to Vic, since it was his hometown, but he didn’t want to leave the Student Miguel Bertolin because he didn’t want this young student to suffer alone. Already in the railway station, they were noticed as priests or something and told them to separate if they wanted to get to Lleida. In spite of this, disembarking from the train separately, a great murmur rose among the waiting crowd. Miguel Bertolin beret was lifted to see if he had a crown like as cleric. After staring at his hands, which were already calloused through the days in the forest, he was led to the Generalite and from there to jail.
At the station, Father Surribas tried to get ticket for Barcelona, but they demanded the pass and he had to go to the city for one. Exiting the station onto the Plaza Berenguer IV, they removed his beret discovering the crown of priest and asked for his documents. Then they arrested him and two armed men escorted him to the door of the Inn of the Four Nations. One of the militiants took his pistol and began to shout:
Leave, leave, so that the curious one lookers departed and he would be able to act more freely. There he unloaded several shots which left the priest dead on the spot. He immediately loaded the corpse in a pickup truck.
It was the Sunday July 26, 1936.