Marceliano Alonso Santamaría

Born June 18, 1906 in Grañón (Logroño)

Professed August 15, 1923

Ordained June 21, 1931

Shot August 13, 1936 in Alboraya (Valencia)


Father Marceliano Alonso was born in the town of Grañón (Logroño) on June 18, 1906 and was solemnly baptized on the 22nd of that month in the parish of San Juan Bautista of that village of the Diocese of Calahorra and Calzada. He was offered by his mother to the Lord. Shortly after he received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

His parents were Don Julián Alonso, a laborer, and Mrs. Felipa Santamaría. They had seven children, four girls and three boys. They all gave them a Christian education. Marceliano made his First Communion when he was 6 years old because he was able to recite the catechism by heart before the Civil and Ecclesiastical authorities. This town was three kilometers away from Santo Domingo de la Calzada, the Claretian missionaries came frequently, so that his religious and missionary vocation grew.

He entered the Postulancy of Alagón on September 9, 1918. There he did three years of Humanities with the best qualifications, meritissimus major. In 1921, he went to Barbastro to study Rhetoric. In a letter he wrote to his parents on November 4, 1918, he said, “I learn the lessons very easily. For now, we do not have more books than grammar, arithmetic, history and catechisms.”

The following year, 1922, he went to Cervera to begin the Novitiate, which he made his First Profession on August 15, 1923.

In the same Center he attended the first two years of Philosophy and the third year in Solsona, where he arrived on July 4, 1925. In early June of the following year, he also received the examination of Civil Baccalaureate with five other missionaries, obtaining all outstanding.

On September 1, 1926, he returned to Cervera to study Theology, with great advantage. On June 1, 1927, when he received the news of his approval of Minor Orders, he wrote to his mother, communicating to her the great joy that this meant for him “because I am beginning to raise to the rank of the priesthood, the greatest dignity there is over the earth, and that is what I most desire in this world.” In June of that year he received in Solsona the Tonsure and the four Minor Orders from the Excellency Valentín Comellas, Bishop of the Diocese.

On May 15, 1931, he wrote to his parents to inform them of the dates on which he was to receive the Orders, indicating as probable on September 21, for the priesthood, but above all to reassure them after the burning of churches and convents. He assured them that there was no danger in Cervera because the Town Council and the Civil Guard were in their favor and that the building was like a fortress. However, he informed them that the applicants had been sent home.

On May 29, 1931, he traveled to Solsona to receive the Subdiaconate on the 30th and the Diaconate the next day and the Priesthood on June 21, 1931, from the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese, Don Valentin Comellas in the chapel of the Episcopal palace. On the same afternoon of the 21st, he returned to Cervera.

When he announced the priestly ordination, anticipated three months as announced in a previous letter, he also indicated that the Superiors had allowed him to go to his village of Grañón on the 28 and 29 and some details of the trip. His impressions and emotions were great and indelible, for it was the first time he had returned to his village since he had grown up as a child. Shortly afterwards he received a letter in which the Brother-in-law invited him to preach the sermon of the feast, but he, knowing the customs, sent them to Father Provincial. He did not give permission.

He continued in Cervera teaching physics and other subjects to high school students. This ended when the Government forbade it at the end of the year 1932-1933. He was then assigned to Solsona in the month of July 1933, to give a summer course and then was appointed Auxiliary of the Prefect of Philosophers and Professor of Mathematics. During all this period he maintained the preoccupation of military waver, for he had not resolved the matter. This also caused restlessness in his family. He communicated this to his parents in a letter dated July 28, 1933: “Another matter, you know that I have the business of fifths pending, and that if I do not go to America with 20 of my companions who from this province embark. It is because of the hope that the Superiors have to free us from service.” In the end he was lucky and the military was in excess of quota.

His second destination was the community of Requena. On June 18, 1934, he moved to that city to take up the position of Superior. But he was also a teacher, sacristan and, above all, a preacher. His first impression of the people described it in these terms in a letter to his parents on August 2, 1934: “The city has hardly the air of a city; It is a large town. Its people are very uncultivated and without religion. There are hardly any men who come to the parish. They are very cold.” And in another letter of September 23rd, of that year, he added: “They do not want priests or sermons here. Let’s see how this goes.

Mr. Arcipreste told me that there are several thousand people in Requena who do not know the Hail Mary or the Sign of the Cross. They went to the Church only when they were baptized.”

But he was not discouraged by this scenario. He was also able to attend a procession of Holy Week 1935, which had not been celebrated for four years, and one of the last who came out preached one of our Fathers who had to get off the pulpit four times because he could not master the bustle of the people who today have a habit (as if they are the only one who goes to church) to speak as in a market.

When they told me about the sermon, they told me that although from that year they had been told at home that they did not want to preach any more than if their servant accepted. I told them yes. They warned me not to listen to what the audience did, not to get angry, not to reprimand them…

I get angry! It would be the first time…

          It is true?

I go to the pulpit; it was like a bullring. Before starting, a man comes up and says:

          By God, Father, do not make a case that these people are like this.

Do not worry, I say, I will not take it badly; I will do what I can, without offending you or offending them. I was fresher than a lettuce … whatever it came out. Yes, the sermon was well prepared.

With which I get up, I start the sign of the cross, without uttering anything, and as they did not hear they start to chirp throughout the Church and to make silence that multitude of people all standing …; … in the middle I was completely silent …”

Here he lasted little more than a year, because on July 4, 1935, he moved to the new residence of Valencia located in the street of San Vicente newly founded, in a rented flat, and he was named Superior. The foundation was approved by the General Government on November 7 of that year. Then the Provincial Government accepted the foundation of the school of the Grao, attended by the Fathers of the residence. He was also responsible for the restoration of the hermitage of San Vicente, a little ruined.


Qualities and virtues

His great intellectual qualities have already been mentioned. It was a talent.

He had a great apostolic zeal for the salvation of souls. He was willing to work anywhere as a missionary, even overseas.

He was an observant student. As a Superior, despite his youthful age, he proved to be very prudent and good at work.


Imprisonment and Martyrdom

On August 12, 1936, he was arrested in the office of Don Francisco Comas Benlloch together with Fr. Gordon and brought before the Committee of the area to declare and then locked up there. At dusk they were given dinner of a stew of potatoes with meat, bread and abundant water, which they hardly tasted.

After dinner they were made to testify in court. The first was Fr. Gordon. Then it was his turn. His interrogation was shorter and the questions a little more generic, but loaded with a great deal of malice: what he was called; where he was from; whether he was a priest, religious and Superior; who were and where his subjects were; if he condemned the Church for going in favor of the factious. He was a little quieter than Father Gordon, but with the conviction that he was going to be a martyr.

They took him back to the cell, where he was with the Father’s Gordon and Galipienzo for another two hours. During that time they prepared for the Sacrifice with confession and prayer.

About 12 o’clock that day, 12 prisoners were taken out of jail. Five militia were waiting with their machine guns, their daggers, their electric lamps, their Luciferian mouth vomiting blasphemies with gestures of hyenas, with authority of executioners: Get in the car! …. They did not bind their hands because they did not resist or flee.

Move! Said the chief and the driver drove the car by the bridge of the Trinity to the road of Alboraya and three kilometers from Valencia, in the municipality of Alboraya, in the game called Masqueta, crossing the railroad with the road and a Acequia, when beginning the road of the Palmaret, turned the car and stopped there near.

The murderers went down, opened the door and told them to go down and lay their hand on their pistols. The chief’s voice sounded harshly:

Get in line!

And moments later

          Get moving!

When they got out of the car, the three of them hugged each other. The commotion was great. Father Alonso felt a sweat that was the precursor of death. At that moment they directed the focus of the car. They prepared the pistols and a shout was heard:

Platform! They aimed … measured … turned off the spot … and the detonation was heard.

At that critical moment Fr. Galipienzo fell to the ground … and the other two, Fr. Alonso and Fr. Gordon, fell. It was the early morning of August 13, 1936.

When Alonso fell, Alonso was killed by the bullets.

On hearing the detonations, the town doctor, Dr. José Lanuza Cervera, and the judge, Don Simeón Tortajada, who were enjoying the cool of the month of August, said:

Let’s see what happened. They already imagined it. With the doctor’s car they set off on their way, but at the exit of the town the control militia prevented them. About four o’clock they returned in their attempt and found no obstacles to reach the Palmaret, where they found two young men shot. They looked at the personal certificate, from which they deduced that they were priests and religious. They lifted the corpses and took them to the cemetery of Alboraya.

When the corpses were recognized, there was a good crowd of curious people, among whom two Red women stood out and tried to tease them and said:

          For tonight we already have two fish…

To which the doctor replied:

          Do not insult them, for the dead are worthy of respect, whatever their condition.

The burial was done this way. The Director of the funeral parlor, who was on the right, gave them a box. One was put in half box and the other in the other half, placing this on the other. They put two or three sacks over them and covered them with dirt.

The undertaker, the doctor, and the judge were careful to take note of everything.