Juan Bautista Torrents Figueras

Born December 8, 1873 in La Secuita (Tarragona)

Professed December 8, 1889

Ordained a priest April 3, 1897

Martyred March 17, 1937 in Barcelona

 

He was born on December 8, 1873, in the village of La Secuita within the Diocese of Tarragona. He was baptized in the parish Church of San Roque, in Argilaga the next day with the names of Juan, Jose Pablo. On April 3, 1877, he received the Sacrament of Confirmation at La Secuita by the Archbishop of Tarraona, during the pastoral visit.

His parents were Juan Torrents, a laborer and Ms. Maria Figueras, a homemaker. He entered in the Congregation in the summer of 1885, going to the Seminary of Barbastro. There he took classes in Preparation and Analysis, Syntax and Rhetoric. His academics and behavior were rated outstanding.

In December 1888, he would begin the Novitiate in Cervera and make his First Profession on December 8, 1889. He began his study of Philosophy in the same house of Cervera. The first year was dedicated to Logic, the second and third, to Metaphysics and Ethics. He would complete his Philosophy in September 1890. During this time he received Tonsure from the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Urgel.

In Cervera, he would complete the first two years of Dogmatic Theology 1892-1894. In the summer 1894, he moved to Santo Domingo de la Calzada where he completed the third year of Dogmatic Theology and two years of Moral Theology. Here he received the Minor Orders in 1895, the Subdiaconate and Diaconate in 1896, from the Bishop of Huesca. On April 3, 1897, in Vitoria, he was ordained to the Priesthood by the Bishop of Vitoria, after having obtained the dispensation from the impediment of age.   He was short 10 months in order to comply with the canonical age of 24 years, granted by the Sacred Congegacion of the Council.

 

Assignments

On June 30, 1897, he moved to Barbastro as Curate of the Prefect of Postulants. In September of 1899, he would move to Solsona as a preacher. In the month of July 1901, he was assigned to the House of Gracia, Barcelona. Here he also devoted himself with apostolic zeal to preaching and other duties like collecting alms for the construction of the Church: “although I don’t fall below 5,000 ptas. every month, with my sacrifices that God only knows how great they are and how much I want to leave this work.” All his efforts and hopes were dashed in one morning when the house and Church were burned. With the burning of the house, he lost all his sermons which amounted to several hundred. In the summer of 1909, he was transferred to La Selva del Campo as a preacher and again to rebuild his arsenal of oratory writings. He wrote to Reverend Father Felipe Maroto, Superior General in Rome asking for a series of books on various subjects. In 1911, he went to preach to San Feliu, and when he was at the train station to return, the Communists began shooting at him. Unharmed by a pure miracle, he ran into the fields and hid.

On August 5, 1913, he was sent to Sabadell as a Consultant but his main occupation was the preaching and being a confessor. In 1917, he was assigned to the House of Gracia for the reconstruction. Here he was again commissioned to collect alms for the construction of the Church following the fire in 1909. He had the ability to collect alms. But seeing the Can. #622, in the Code of Canon Law, he became doubtful if such activity would fall under the ban of the Canon and consulted with the distinguished jurist Fr. Felipe Maroto. During these years he also directed the Arch-Confraternity. At this time, the pressure and strain of preaching hindered his desire to preach, but he likes the confessional. In September 1920, the Father General suggested he be part of an expedition to Mexico. But his spirit was gone. Even the illusion of going to America diminished. He was no longer in good health and suffered with rheumatism. In 1924, he traveled to Rome as director of the Arch-Confraternity. In 1925, on the occasion of the Jubilee Year, he wanted to win all the privileges and requested permission to go indicating that they paid the trip. His request was denyed.

In 1926, he was appointed again to Sabadell where he had great apostolic activity in various cities and towns with all kinds of preaching, He was busy with Triduums, novenas, Talks, Sermons, and above all confessions. In 1935, his health was poor, and by now he was nearly blind, and his mind was not as clear due to stress. In 1936, he has little activity outside the house.

 

Virtues

Since the beginning of his studies it was evident that he was a hard worker, tireless, and talented. He was a keen observer of what was happening even though some would say that he was picky. But what is certain is that all the observation he made would put in writing, or proposals to the Chapters would be investigated. He demonstrated a great love for the Congregation, truth and a rejection of self-righteousness. He led a very simple life, kind and charitable; humble and grateful. This also cultivated other virtues such as patience with others.

As a religious, he was observant and exemplary. Never departed from his religious and priestly duties. He was very pious, and in particular with the Rosary and he prayed continuously. He always carried the rosary. He was ready to shed his blood for Christ. He said, he would rather die than deny the faith.

 

Martyrdom

Fr. Torrents who was nearly blind left the house on July 19th, to take refuge in the home of a relative living in Premia del Mar. Sta Candida Ruiz y Ciprés who was a dear friend and spiritual advisor was able to get a car and accompanied him to Premia del Mar. In view of the fact, that the house of the relative offered no security, the following week he would move on to Barcelona. In the meantime, he sought refuge in different houses, such as the friends of  Don Ramon Clotet and Mrs. Josefa Padrós, property owners, from where he was able to escape from the registry patrol car. He found refuge in a crowded street named Corsica esquuina Gerona. Three days later, he settled in a boarding house on the Montjuich Pasaja del Obispo, #4, where he stayed until August 30th. From there, he would move to a Pension de la Plaza Figueras, which had been provided by his dear friend Mrs. Consuelo Magrina. In this place he encountered Don Alejandro Segu, the elderly parish priest of Santa Coloma de Gramanet.

During these days, Fr. Torrents spent many hours in praying the Rosary. It became his source of comfort. This poor old blind man had very little company. Fr. Nolla would come to see him about every two weeks and hear his confession. There was also some relatives who came to see him and a few friends. Those few who did visit him commented on his virtues, especially in his patience and resignation to accept the will of God.

On February 13, 1937, there was a bombing in Barcelona which was carried out by National Party. Everyone in the pension de la Plaza Figueras, including those who lived incognito like Fr. Torrents, went down into the shelter. In the overcrowded shelter and afraid, this drew the attention of anyone with bad intentions. Fr. Torrent would be betrayed.

 

In the prison of St. Elijah.

On February 16, a Patrol of Control arrived at the pension to make the dreaded registry. They ransacked the house destroying all religious objects and taking the detainees Fr. Torrents and Don Alejandro Segu.

Both suffered in the sinister prison of St. Elijah. Don Alejandro had the cunningness of passing himself off as a player and payed the fine of 500 pesetas. Three days later he was free.

Father Torrents was too naïve. From the very beginning, he confessed that he was a Claretian Missionary and was placed in a cell. Here he remained there until March 17th. During this time he prayed, suffered and waited. There, he experienced the truth of loneliness and abandonment. Only two young people by the names of Juyol and Marlet, were his angels. They would go looking for him in the cell to take him to the dining room or the cloister, so he could have some fresh air and a little distraction.

He didn’t need to be clairvoyant, so as to predict what would happen. There were very few who escaped from Saint Elias. Least of all would be a priest or religious. The cemetery of Montcada was certainly going to be his next stop.

The system of the powerful “Don Money” which was used by the Revolutionary Militias became more abusive when the Generalitat with the decree of March 2nd, reorganized the services of public order and dissolved the Patrols of Control. In the prison of St. Elijah the prisoners were divided into three groups. A few were released. Others were taken to the Palace of Justice, then to a Model Prison, and the third group were taken to Montcada and the cemetery. Those who do not fall within these groups was because they were able to buy their freedom with money from their families. And people like Fr. Torrents went to the pit. During the Revolution, money was power.

Father Torrents was taken out of jail March 17, 1937, and led to Montcada to be shot. He was buried in a common grave in the cemetery. Therefore it isn’t clear if he was cast into the grave dead or alive, like others. Some were creamated so as to save time and space in the cemetery. What is certain is that the corpse of Fr. Torrents was never found despite the fact that he was sought repeatedly in Montcada and in the Clinic of Barcelona.