Born February 16, 1910 in Madrid
Professed August 31, 1926
Ordained May 26, 1934
Shot August 21, 1936 in Olocau (Valencia)
Father Luis Francés was born on February 16, 1910 on Mesón de Paredes Street in the city of Madrid and was baptized ten days later in the parish of San Millan by Father Enrique Núñez. His parents were Don Manuel Francés, a day laborer and Dª Visitación Toledano, who had other children that entered the Claretians. The oldest of them, Manuel. These two brothers competed with each other in studies.
At the end of September 1921, he entered the Postulancy of Alagon, where he studied humanities, demonstrating his good intellectual qualities. On August 16, 1925, he went to Vic to begin the Novitiate. The Novitiate was under the direction of Fr Ramón Ribera. He would make his First Profession on August 31, 1926.
The next day he moved to Solsona to begin his Philosophical studies. Completing these studies, in mid-August 1929, he moved to Cervera to study Theology. In this city, in the first week of February 1931, he received Tonsure and the four Minor Orders from the Bishop of Barcelona. On the 17th of the same month and year he made his Perpetual Profession. Also in Cervera on September 17, 1933, received the Subdiaconate and on February 24, 1934, the Diaconate from the Bishop of Solsona. On May 26, 1934 he would be ordained to the priesthood from His Excellency Ramón Font, Bishop of Tarija, Bolivia.
His first assignment was the community of Gracia in Barcelona, where he served as teacher in the school course 1934-1935. When finishing the year, he was assigned to the new foundation of Valencia, as a preacher and when it was constituted the residence status, he was assigned as Minister of the community. In spite of this charge, he would visit many towns to preach missions and all kinds of sermons of feasts.
On Lent 1936, he preached in Grao and was greatly appreciated by the people. Therefore, at the outbreak of war, he was supplying the parish priest, Don Alfonso Roig. From the house to the parish there was a great distance and not good communications. On July 20, 1036, Valencia burned on all sides and it was difficult for him to reach the parish. Then he said to the faithful:
Let’s say the Mass soon, because they are burning the churches.
He said it quickly and at the end the mobs sprayed the church with gasoline and set it on fire.
Qualities and Virtues
He had good intellectual qualities and work skills. He was easygoing, simple and humble. He was a good priest, faithful to his duty, fervent and pious. During the persecution, he emphasized his devotion to the Way of the Cross and the Rosary, which he quietly prayed when he went down the street. In his bearing he could be seen as a friar. Kindly, he invited all to forgive the enemies following the example of the Lord.
Detention and Martyrdom
On July 27, 1936, Fr. Luis moved to the village of Serra, 32 kilometers from the capital, sent by the Superior at the request of Alfonso Roig, who was there with a colony of children from his parish.
During the time that he was in this town, he dedicated himself to prayer, study and to celebrate Mass in the house where he was staying, apparently the one of Don Jose Alemay, sacristan de Bétera. He also used to visit the stations of the Way of the Cross installed outside the village on the slope of a hill and prayed the three parts of the Rosary as well as the Breviary in the company of an old lady called Isabel. She asked the Father if he was not afraid. The Father appeared serene and calm and answered him:
Do not worry so much. God is above everything. And at the last moment also Jesus died for us.
When comments were made about the Reds’ emperors, Ms. Isabel was uncontrollable against such evildoers and wished them death…
One must have charity with all and also with the enemies. We should not wish evil upon anybody, answered the Father.
On August 20, the danger presented itself. Fr Frances and his companion, Jose Alemany, spent the evening in the house of Mrs. Isabel and retired to their room. In a short while, two cars arrived and the militants stood at the door. They were militia from Bétera in communication with the Reds of Sierra, that came to look for Don Alfonso Roig, who had already had gone to Barcelona. The owner of the house, José Alemany, and Father Frances were then arrested. The owners of the cars had to do the service of driving them by “obligation.” They were taken to the Committee and from there to the Cartuja of Porta Coeli, where the victims and the executioners spent the night. They got them to eat lean potatoes, but they didn’t even taste the food. While the drivers went to purchase gasoline.
The next day, August 21, 1936, the odyssey continued very early. The militia said they were going to Liria to deliver them to the court. They got into the cars and Fr. Frances told them to take him to Liria to appear before the court and that he was a teacher. He did not speak anymore. During the journey they were silent. When they arrived at the 6th kilometer of the road to Olocau all the cars went down while the drivers made maneuver to return to Betera.
Not all militants present agreed to shoot the victims and discuss whether to bring them to court or execute them.
The two drivers, who were a little distant ahead but could see what was happening, heard some shots and were surprised. They saw that Fr. Frances was on his knees with his arms crossed and said, according to the confession of the Red ringleader, nicknamed the Ringer, that the priest “forgave those who killed him, since God had so willed him; He died satisfied.”
He was buried in the cemetery of Olocau, municipality of the province of Valencia.