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LEFT: Vincente Pena (from the province of Spain) Marty Gleeson, OP (provincial) Angeline Magro, OP (prioress, St. Mary's) Bonifacio Solis, provincial Holy Rosary Province) and Bruce Trigo, (Provincial moderator, Lay Dominicans)

Monument to Dominican Martyrs Dedicated

PONCHATOULA, LA --On Oct. 11,2008 a monument to Dominican friars of the Spanish Holy Rosary Province who were martyred in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War was dedicated in the Dominican Cemetery at Rosaryville northwest of New Orleans in Louisiana. These six Dominicans had been beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 28, 2007 at St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

The dedication began with a Mass at St. Joseph's Dominican Church in Ponchatoula, with Sr. Angeline Magro, O.P., prioress of the St Mary's Dominican Sisters, giving the welcome. Very Rev. Martin J. Gleeson, O.P., provincial of St Martin de Porres Province, presided at the Mass, with Very Rev. Bonifacio Solís O.P., provincial of Holy Rosary Province from Hong Kong, presenting the sermon.

Following the Mass, the formal blessing of the monument took place at the Dominican Friars' Cemetery, on the campus of the Dominican Spirit Life Center, west of Ponchatoula. Giving the blessing were these Dominicans-Sr. Angeline, Fr. Gleeson, Fr. Soils, Mr. Bruce Trigo (provincial moderator of the Dominican Laity) and Sr. Alberta Schindler (Eucharistic Missionary of St Dominic). This cemetery contains the graves of friars from Holy Rosary (Spanish missionary), St Albert's (Central) and St. Martin's (Southern) Provinces —and from St Mary's Dominican Sisters.

Rosaryville Cemetery
Rosaryville, LA Cemetery where the momument commemorating six Spanish Domincian Martyrs is located

A very special guest for this dedication was Fr. Vicente Peña, age 96, currently living in San Antonio, Texas, who as a member of the Province of Spain was a classmate of some of these martyred and beatified Dominicans.

This monument, prepared by the Covington Monument Co., commemorates the six Dominican friars who were martyred in Spain between July and September 1936 and who had connections with Rosaryville (which was a Spanish Dominican Seminary from 1911 until 1938).

These six martyred Dominican friars were: Buenaventura Garcia de Paredes (the 78th Master General of the Order who had established Rosaryville as a Dominican seminary in 1911), Jesus Villaverde Andres (prior and rector of the Rosaryville theology studium) and four missionary priests—Antonio Varona Ortega, Pedro Ibáñez Alonso, José Maria Carrillo and Leoncio Arce Urrutía.

After leaving Rosaryville, these friars became missionaries in the Far East and later returned to their native Spain. In 1936, they became victims of the Spanish Civil War which pitted the Leftist Republicans against Franco's Nationalists.

Bonifacio Solis
Very Rev. Bonifacio Solís O.P., provincial of Holy Rosary Province from Hong Kong, presenting the sermon.

In his sermon at the Oct 11 Eucharist, Fr. Bonifacio stated: "A number of the martyrs had left their parents, their land, its tranquility and peace to walk behind

Jesus through the unknown deserts. As their brethren of another era and of a contest so different from theirs, what do they want to tell us? What message must we read in these testimonies? We envy them, and why not? The grace of martyrdom! They had professed truth and justice, even after having crossed the seas and spent many years of their lives in the service of the Kingdom in far away places; they had the joy of offering their lives for their own countrymen as an evening sacrifice, in silence and solitude, sometimes without even any witness other than the many brothers and sisters who had also offered lives like blossoms that wither, without bidding farewell to those whom they have the right to embrace and to console."

On this first anniversary of their beatification, these martyred friars, along with so many hundreds of other martyred lay women and men, religious, priests and bishops in Spain, offer our Dominican family throughout the world the powerful witness of fortitude and sanctity in serving Jesus Christ.

Carl B. Trutter, OP
St. Martin Province
photo credits: Carl B. Trutter, OP


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