Manuel Torres Nicolau

Born October 15, 1874 in Almacellas (Lérida)

Professed July 16, 1891

Ordained a priest May 13, 1899

Shot July 25, 1936 in Lleida

 

Father Manuel Torres was born in Almacellas, a village in the province of Lerida on October 15, 1874 and was baptised on the same day of his birth. His parents were Don José Torres, a laborer, and Mrs. Raimunda Nicolau.

In the month of June 1887, he entered the Postulancy of Barbastro. For the occasion, the teacher in his town reported that the child was well behaved, and a well rounded student. He excelled in all the explanations and especially in Christian Doctrine. This academic and behavior attitude carried over into his Postulancy. In 1889, he went to Alagon to study rhetorics. On July 14, 1890, Manuel moved to Cervera to begin the Novitiate. His Master of Novice was Father Antonio Sánchez del Val. A year later he would make his First  Profession on July 16, 1891.

Philosophical studies would take place in Cervera. In 1894, he moved to Santo Domingo de la Calzada to study Theology. In January 1895, he received Tonsure and the four Minor Orders from the Bishop of Zaragoza.  On October 15, 1899, he received the Subdiaconate and the following week the Diaconate from the Bishop of Osma in Santo Domingo. In this same city, he was ordained priest on May 13, 1900.

Once he finished his studies, he would go to Segovia as a teacher. In 1902, he went to Don Benito as the house Minister. During the next few years he would move to Plasencia, Aranda and in 1906, to Vic. Eventually numerous assignments would follow and in 1931, he would go to Mallorca as preacher.

In 1922 he received the invitation to go to help in the missions of Mexico, but felt that God wasn’t calling him to so great a ministry “when I don’t have the necessary qualities: first the wishes and virtue; then I am not all that healthy… my destiny is to continue in this little corner of Barbastro. No doubt there may be another order with the fate of Divine Providence, which I do not know when it will happen.” Shortly after the invitation was renewed to go overseas and he respond in the same way, specifying his illness, which clarifies the reports of the Prefect. “I have managed to reduce the stomach problems, and have an apparent good health.” What is certain is that Father Torres suffered also from stress, which didn’t hinder the awareness of accept martyrdom.

 

Qualities

Willingness for things and crafts dealing with physical activity. His intellectual qualities were average (among his classmates were Father Felipe Maroto and Juan Postius) and he was very fond of mechanical work.

Pious but his imagination could be extravagant, stubborn.

 

Martyrdom

July 21, 1936, he left the community to take refuge in the home of Mrs. Jaques, adjacent to the convent and shortly after was taken prisoner by the militia and then to the prison. In prison he was put in the same room, n. 5, with Father’s Miguel Baixeras and ArturoTamarit and 32 other people living in overcrowded conditions. There they recited the Rosary publicly.

One day the militia arrived at the door of their room asking for the name, profession and other circumstances to prisoners. The three missionaries confessed that they were religious and priests. Father Torres on several occasions expressed his resignation and acceptance of martyrdom. He suffered with patience the ill-treatment of the henchmen.

On July 25, at 4.30 in the morning the Committee members with pistols woke all in the room. They placed all of them facing the wall. Then the leader exclaimed:

Poor!, I pity them all.

Choose some at least, replied the other militia members.

 

Among the chosen was Father Torres along with Miguel Baixeras and Arturo Tamarit, because they were the leaders of the Rosary. Also was the young Rafael Ruiz and Julio Olle. When they went by the gallery, a militia man said: This one  no. At lease one was saved. They had gone to look for the priests. This event was witnessed, “It was powerful seeing how they were going to their death, with a smile on their lips, gaze at heaven and with dignity: all their gesture announcing the faith and confidence of a better life and the forgiveness of their murderers.”

At about 4:45 in the morning, the other prisoners heard the explosions of the guns. Father Torres, together with Father’s Miguel Baixeras and Arturo Tamarit, were shot on July 25, 1936.

According to Don Antonio Larroca, the undertaker of the cemetery, Father Torres was buried in a common grave called “pit of martyrs,” which made it impossible to identify the body.