Novena – Day 8



Spanish Civil War of 1936 is a horrible memory especially for the church and the religion. So many religious or priests, nuns and lay people who gave shelter to the priests were mercilessly killed only because they were priests and nuns. They destroyed churches,  convents, burnt all the holy articles and books, desecrated holy places, etc. They said we must put an end to this race of people. In Vic one of the armed man said “How many times have I wanted to put an end to this bad weed, and haven’t been able!  But this time, we will make sure.”

The martyrs who will be beatified in October come from the communities of Barcelona (8), Castro Urdiales (3), Cervera-Mas Claret (60), Lérida (11), Sabadell (8), Vic-Sallent (15) and Valencia (4). Heading this numerous group of martyrs appear three names: Mateu Casals (Priest), Teófilo Casajús (Student) and Fernando Saperas (Brother). They symbolise the diversity of vocations in our Congregation (cf. CC7). In the group there are 49 priests, 31 brothers and 29 students, with an average age of 39. Catalans, Navarros, Aragoneses, Castillians, all sharing a common religious profession and a great love of our Congregation. Except for two, who died in 1937, all were martyred in the latter months of 1936.


There are so many aspects of martyrs life which are not included here, for example the life of virtues, obedience, poverty, fidelity to their vocation,  precaution and prudence applied in their life, Spirit of humility, different ministries, lay people who died just because they gave shelter to our martyrs etc. It is not possible to include all these aspects in 9 days of novena prayers. Only some important aspects of their life are taken for our reflection.


Lord our God in the designs of your adorable kindness you predestined 109 Claretians to be martyrs for your sake and bestowed them with special gifts of graces, so that they may become the model of sanctity in those different states of the Christian life. We praise you and we give you thanks mainly for the treasures of virtues that you deposited in their souls, above all with a strong faith to give up their life for your sake. Grant us the grace to follow their examples and to imitate their virtues, and especially we (I) request you during this Novena meditation to grant us your protection through the powerful intercession of those 109 Claretian martyrs.  We (I) also pray through the Immaculate Heart Mary of whose glory and mercy made them strong in their faith. Amen.


1Cor 3:16-17

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

Rom 12:1-2

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.


All the martyrs were very faithful to their vows and lived a life of purity of heart and mind and surrendered their life totally to the lord. Among all those martyrs there is one hero whose life is worth reflecting specially regarding the vow of chastity.

Bro. Fernando Saperas Aluja age 30, was arrested at his friend’s farm, located some thirteen kilometers from Cervera.  The leader of the Red Army Militant  Juan Casterás after arresting Bro.Fernando forced him to get into a large car. Then, on the road towards the City, began ill treating him.

Casterás and Juan del Hostal tore off Fernando’s clothes, and had him lie face down while they held him violently another militant took off his clothes with no shame, and he pounced on Fernando like a beast.  Fernando was struggling with all his power to resist, while pleaded: Kill me if you want, kill me but don’t do that…!

After sometime the militants told him : “When we arrive in Cervera, we will take you to a house of prostitution. If you have sex with a woman before us, then we will not kill you.” Bofarull as a witness states: “They repeated this no less than ten times.” But they always received the same inflexible answer: “Kill me if you want, I will not do that…!”

Fernando was taken to a couple of brothels. Mr. Ramón Vilaró Pont remembers the facts, because his house was behind one of those brothels and recollects how the militants grabbed Brother Saperas from his private parts, and pushed him towards one of the prostitutes.

To each new provocation, Fernando always replied “I am a virgin, and I will die a virgin!” This phrase was confirmed by several witnesses. He said those words energetically and vehemently, to which the executioners made a grotesque comment: “Did he say he is a virgin? Well, we will make him our job!”

Then they stripped two prostitutes and sent them over to the chaste Religious, but he would not do anything. They invited him to choose a woman, the one he likes more. They made several promises that nothing will happen if he did, they even implied that he would get his freedom. But he refused. So they told him: Show us that you can do it! And he replied: Stop talking nonsense, that I am more capable than all of you. But I do not want to, so do with me whatever you want!”

They took him to another two brothels at Tárrega, El Vermut and La Garza. The militants provoked the Brother in the most vulgar way. They stripped him naked and exposed him for everyone to see and he suffered a great humiliation. They forced the Religious to … (guess, reader) trying to make him excited and involve with a woman. She was forced to strip naked and pulled down the pants of the Brother, but he never acceded. Then they forced him to walk naked, humiliating him. And they repeated this pressure alternating from one brothel to another, from El Vermut and La Garza.”

Brother Fernando was always praying and making the sign of the cross over him, with his eyes downcast. He suffered all these brutalities, followed by punching to see if he lifted his head. Casterás violently pulled down Fernando’s pants, and he did what can’t be said here, while he was saying: “Come on, let us see if you can… so you give up the rules of what your God commands.”

For some people, it is a gift from God; for others, perhaps an explainable inhibition in such circumstances. Among the first group is Carmen Cotilles, who commented in her own way “That person was a saint, because he showed no reaction.” Casterás could take no more, and he confronted Carmen threatening her with his gun: “You will be in charge of getting him. If you don’t get him, I will kill you!”

But Carmen, regains her dignity as a woman, and without fear of a gun, she replies with these words: “I will not do that, and I am not afraid of your gun! I may be a whore, but I have more heart and feelings than many of you, who are savages. I will not do such a thing!”

Their attitude and feelings can be summed up in this recommendation that Carmen issued to the Court: “You can make that poor man a martyr right now, because he really was one!”

But also all admired the energy with which he defends his virtue, not exactly a modest girl, but a man in the prime of his life, and all done to be faithful with his Religious Vows which he had before the Altar.

The tragedy took fifteen hours. The weight of the tragedy has failed to break his indomitable determination of a Christian Martyr, and calmly, he asks permission to speak: “Forgive them Lord, they don’t know what they do…! I forgive you! I forgive you! …And the martyr said: “Long live Christ the King! Long live the Religion!”Brother died forgiving. Juan who committed a hideous barbarity, repented for all his evil doings just five years before his death and became deeply religious.

The cry of the dying Christ on the cross, perpetrated in many martyrs, continues to work wonders. His memory is very much alive in the Christian community of Tarrega.

What is my attitude towards the vows? How do I respond to the temptations especially towards chastity?



  1. Glorious Claretian martyrs, faithful servants of the church: help us to come closer, to the holy Catholic Church and to an unshakable fidelity to all its teachings and precepts.

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the father…….

  1. Glorious Claretian martyrs, Apostles of the Holy Virgin: help us to come closer to the devotion of Immaculate Heart, and by means of her the salvation of our souls.

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the father…….

  1. Glorious Claretian martyrs who were faithful to St. Anthony Mary Claret and the charism of Claretian Congregation: help us to have a burning love towards Jesus, to follow his steps until the summit of the Christian perfection.

Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the father…….


  1. Pray for us, Claretian martyrs.
  2. So that we may become worthy of those promises of Jesus Christ.

Almighty God, by whose grace and power your 109 Claretian holy martyrs triumphed over suffering and were faithful unto death: strengthen us with your grace, that we may endure reproach and persecution and faithfully bear witness to the name of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.