Martyrs of Turon
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of the Catholic Church
The martyrs of Turon were a group of eight De La Salle Brothers and a Passionist priest who were executed by revolutionaries in Spain in October 1934. They were canonized in 1999 by Pope John Paul II.
At the time Spain was a deeply divided nation, with left-wing and right-wing factions at odds with each other. The Catholic Church was generally associated with the right, while the Republican government of the time leaned to the left, and left-wing factions such as the Anarchists and Communists commanded wide popular support. It was against this background the Christian Brothers of Turon found themselves.
In 1934 Turón, a coal-mining town in the Asturias Province in Northwestern Spain, was the centre of anti-government and anticlerical hostility in the years prior to the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. The eight de la Salle brothers were involved in an educational mission in the town of Turón in Asturias, living in a community there and teaching in a church school. The Brothers were known to defy the ban on teaching religion and they openly escorted their students to Sunday Mass.
In October 1934 following the calling of a general strike, the miners of Asturias began to arm and organize themselves, occupying several towns and setting up revolutionary committees. The Brothers' school was an irritant to the radicals in charge of the town because of the religious influence it exerted on the young. On Friday 5 October they occupied Turon, forcing their way into the school on the pretext that arms had been hidden there and arresting the Brothers there. Also present was a Passionist priest, who was visiting to hear confessions. He was also arrested.
Over the next few days they were tried by a revolutionary court and sentenced to death. On 9 October 1934, in the early hours of the morning, they were shot and were then buried in a common grave.
The miners' revolt collapsed shortly after this, being repressed by government troops, with over 3000 miners killed in the process. The government forces were led by General Francisco Franco, who would himself rebel against the government two years later.
The nine are regarded by the Catholic church as Martyrs of the Spanish Civil War. Although their deaths occurred two years prior to the outbreak of the war, it was part and parcel of the communal violence that was a feature of the conflict, and the times before and after. Of the 6,000 religious killed during the Spanish Civil War about 1,000 have had their causes advanced for beatification, though the Martyrs of Turon are the first to be canonized.
The cause for the Martyrs of Turon was linked to that of Jaime Hilario, a Brother killed in a separate incident in 1937, who was canonized on the same day.
The Martyrs of Turon were:
- Brother CIRILO-BERTRAN director of the community of Turon. He was born JOSE SANZ TEJEDOR on March 20, 1888 at Lerma, in the province of Burgos.
- Brother MARCIANO-JOSE. He was born FILOMENO LOPEZ LOPEZ on November 17, 1900 at El Pedregal (Guadalajara).
- Brother JULIAN-ALFREDO. He was born VILFRIDO FERNANDEZ ZAPICO on December 24, 1903 at Cifuentes de Rueda (Leon).
- Brother VICTORIANO-PIO. He was born CLAUDIO BERNABE CANO on July 7, 1905 at San Milian de Lara (Burgos)
- Brother BENJAMIN-JULIAN. He was born VICENTE ALONSO ANDRES on October 7, 1908 at Jaramillo de la Fuente (Burgos).
- Brother BENITO DE JESUS. He was born HECTOR VALDIVIELSO on October 31, 1910 in Buenos Aires (Argentina)
- Brother AUGUSTO-ANDRES. He was born ROMAN MARTINEZ FERNANDEZ on May 9, 1910 at Santander
- Brother ANICETO-ADOLFO At just twenty years old, he was the young Brother of the community. He was born MANUEL SECO GUTIERREZ on October the 1912 at Celada Marlantes (Santander)
- Father INOCENCIO DE LA INMACULADA. He was a Passionist Father who had come to hear the confessions. He was born MANUEL CANOURA ARNAU on March 10, 1887 at S. Cecilia del Valle de Oro, near the Cantabrian coast in the province of Lugo (Galicia).