The Claretian Missionaries founded their house in Sabadell in 1899. With the Church open to the public, the Missionaries exercised their ministry:
- The religious persecution in Sabadell
Sabadell is a city located 25 kilometers to the West of Barcelona. The Claretian Missionaries were their only 37 year, when the Revolution began. On July 20th, the left-wing Rebels began attacking the churches and convents. The Religious communities asked the Civil Guards for protection. The Guards couldn’t intervene because they received orders not to go into the street. When they were unable to find safety, the Piarists, Claretians, Marists, Escolapias, Sisters of the Divine Shepherd, those of the Sagrada Familia, Carmelites, Josephine and the Handmaids of Mary all left their residences or convents and took refuge where they could find shelter.
The next day the Rebels began burning the churches. They also looted and set fire to other religious centers, such as the schools without any respect to culture or history. They were forming their own culture. As with all these new groups, there wasn’t any discipline but rather disorder and destruction. When all the churches had been burned, the Committee ordered the militia to repress all looting. The local politicians and other people from the Right were immediately subjected to pilaging.
Then the man-hunts would begin on July 21st. The main victims were priests and religious. The hunting method was almost always the same. It began with calls from the Council of ditch. About four well armed men and the victims were in a car. Driving for a while at some point, they would stopped the car. They would begin drinking cognac and then fired all at once at the head and chest of the victim. When they were done, they would drive away leaving the body in the road. The total number of victims was 74. Among them there were 21 priests, 7 Carlists, 4 Catalan soldiers, and 3 city council members. There are also other victims of the Catholic clergy and politicians killed in different sites. Many historians often ignore these events.
The Committee of the Antifascist Militias of Sabadell was formed by all the Leftist forces and by July 22nd, were in complete control. The first decision was to prohibit any movement from one to five in the morning. The Committee and comardes had free reign to run throughout the city.
This started to play out on August 8th. Thus began the terror and religious persecution. The Defense Committee decided that: “the revenge, hatred, ill will must give way to the judicial decisions of our organization. Comrades: It is good to sow terror, because we want to dignify the Revolutionary Movement, demonstrating confidence in our Anti-fascist Organizations. Against the anticlerical fascism and military, we will oppose with our actions as the Anti-fascist Militias.” The Committee considered priests and Carlist military as the enemy. Fear would grow day by day. All decisión were made by the Committee of Pressure. They carried a book with a black list of people who were against the new orders.
The atmosphere of terror never cease to end. Everything is decided in the Committee of pressure. This contributed to form the black lists booksellers which provided the addresses of the subscribers to newspapers which belong to the right.
- The Claretian community
The martyrs of Sabadell in July 1936, was composed of the following individuals:
Fr. Mateo Casals Mas, Superior
Fr. José María Nolla Gili, Consultor
Fr. José Reixach Reguer, House Minister
Fr. Juan Torrents Figueras, Consultor
Fr. José Puig Bret
Fr. Antonio Aguadé Masón
Fr. José Parrilla Pamplona
Fr. Pío Tamarit Piñol
Br. José Claveria Mas
Br. Juan Rafí Figuerola
Br. José Cardona Dalmases
Br. José Solé Maimó
The persecution of 1936, didn’t catch the Claretians completely unprepared because in October 1934, they were evicted from their convent and had to seek refuge in the homes of friends. With the Revolution, each member was already prepared to find refuge and if needed to take a brother along. Some like Mr Tana, had gone to the convent to offer his home to the missionaries as a refuge. This is what happened with the the expulsion of the community of July 19th.
The first to leave that day was the Fr. Torrents. Since he was almost blind, he sought refuge outside of Sabadell with some of his relatives. The others left the house in the evening so as to go unnoticed. But early in the following morning, they returned to the house to celebrate Mass and receive Communion. Toward noon that day, they withdrew to the shelters with no plans of returning to the house. The house and the church were looted and burned on July 21st.
Father Reixach was shot July 25th. This all took place in the middle of the Street and he was buried in a common grave of Sabadell with six others. Father Torrents was captured August 4th. All of these were arrested in the homes where they sought refuge. It seems that there was a list of shelters where each one maintain some type of communication. It is likely that this list fell into the hands of the Revolutionaries of Sabadell. The one in charge of the arrests was a man by the name of Romans, who with his patrol was passing by the homes with personal details, including the names of each member of the community.
The first ones arrested were the Brother’s Juan Rafi and José Cardona, around 11:30 in the morning. Second was Brother José Sole Maimo, a half an hour later. Third, was Fr. Superior, Matthew Casals, around four in the afternoon. Finally in the evening, it was Fr. Puig and Br. Claveria. The six members were surprised to see each other in prison. Along with the Claretians were nine other prisoners, which included a Piarist and laymen.
The Claretian Missionaries led community life in the prison. They practiced their pious devotions including the Rosary and Spiritual Exercises led by Fr. Matthew Casals. They tried to encourage each other. It appears that the director of the prison, Mr. Victor Uriel dispensed to those imprisoned a benign treatment, which certainly didn’t follow the thinking of the Committees.
In early September, the Director offered direction to the General Directorate of Prisons, the chief of police of Barcelona and the safety adviser. This proved to be a lost cause. In addition, he was warned in advance of what was going to happen and the orders to the jailer: if they ask for the keys, don’t say no.
On September 4, 1936, Irun fell in the hands of the National Troops and there was a change of Government in Madrid. Francisco Largo Caballero occupied the Presidency which intensified the persecution. At 11:45 at night, a anarchists patrol guided by a bully screamed: Men! It is time to get down to work and with an order signed by the Director-General of Security, Esteve demanded from the director of the prison the keys of all the prisoners. For those with authentic papers, thee were handed to the Director, but it didn’t seem to matter. They were also following the local Revolutionary Committee agenda. Everything was premeditated. Choosing four prisoners and placing them in a car, it didn’t seem to end.
To the 15 victims who were taken in cars to four different sites, they all were killed at 5:00 in the morning of September 5th. According to some, the victims died shouting “Long Live Christ the King! In total there were seven missionaries; a Piarist and six Claretian Missionaries. Father Casals was buried in the cemetery of San Quirico. Brother Cardona was thown in the pit of Sabadell. Father Puig and the Brothers Claveria, Rafi and Sole were dumped in the pit of the cemetery in Terassa. As has been said before, these patrols had a way of killing or modus operandi with little originality. The cognac prepared them with courage to shoot the victims in the head and thorax. The next day, a family members would go to meet their relatives finding the prison empty.
 Pertenecía a la comunidad de Cervera, y, estando de paso en Barcelona entonces, se acogió a esta creyendo que podría pasar desapercibido y así salvar la vida.