Blessed Salvio Huix-Miralpeix
Bl Salvio Huix-Miralpeix, along with some fellow Spanish Oratorian priests, are the first Oratorians to receive the crown of martyrdom. They were martyred during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. Bl Salvio is one of 522 martyrs who were beatified in 2013 who were among thousands of Catholics who were killed during the Civil War.
Salvio was born in 1877 into a very devout and faithful family who together attended daily Mass, prayed the Rosary daily, and made frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. Perhaps it was this devotion, encouraged by his parents, which inspired in Salvio a call to the priesthood as he announced he was going to join the minor seminary entering at 10 years old. He was ordained a priest at the age of 26 and served as a curate in country parishes, but he found a growing desire to be around more people to help them to grow in holiness. The Oratorian life seemed like the perfect life for him, and he entered the Vic Oratory in Spain in 1907, now 30 years of age.
The Fathers and Brothers of the Vic Oratory were no slackers, perhaps it was this zeal fed at the Oratory, which would carry over to the zeal we would see in Bl Salvio’s martyrdom. The community rose at 4:30 am every day, and 4:00 am on Feast days, starting their day with that all-important half an hour of mental prayer, beginning their day communing with the Lord in the interior of their hearts. After their mental prayer, the fathers would hear confessions, offer their Masses, and then often go back to the confessional in the afternoon.
From this life of prayer flowed the apostolic works of the Vic Oratory. There were many groups associated with these works such as the Brothers of the Little Oratory, groups for young people, teaching catechism to children, and visiting the sick. Bl Salvio had a great concern that married men didn’t seem as involved in the Church as other groups, so he founded a confraternity for married men under the patronage of St Joseph. Bl Salvio could often be found leading these and other young men in corporal works of mercy by attending to the material and physical needs of the sick. When he wasn’t in the confessional or teaching, he could be found tending to the sick himself, whether it be helping to bathe them or changing their bed linen.
By 1927, Fr Salvio had become the provost of the Oratory, but in his sadness but submission to God’s will, he was asked to become a Bishop, meaning he had to leave the Congregation. Yet he always remained a spiritual son of St Philip. As a Bishop, he bravely resisted and fought against the anti-Catholic republican regime that took over Spain in 1931. The regime suppressed religious orders, looted and burned convents, closed religious run schools, and forbade the practice of religion such as Catholic burials. He publically denounced these actions in his 1932 pastoral letter likening the regime to barking dogs and grunting pigs.
Civil War eventually broke out again, and many Catholic priests, religious and bishops were cruelly martyred. One of his 15-year-old seminarians was given a mock trial, publicly stripped, beaten, and nailed to a beam where he died. One of the many thousands of Catholics who would be killed for their faith by the atheistic republican regime.
Eventually, after burning the Cathderal, they came for Bishop Salvio in 1936. For a short time he successfully hid, but fearing for the safety of those looking after him, he turned himself in to the police at a republican blockade announcing: “I am Bishop of Lerida and I place myself under your protection.” This trust would quckly be betrayed, and he was promptly imprisoned with several other ecclesiastics and laymen. Continuing his pastoral zeal amidst the trials of unjust imprisonment, he said Mass for them after sacred vessels had been smuggled in, and heard their confessions.
About two weeks after being imprisoned, early one morning in August, he and twenty of his fellow prisoners, were told they were to be transported for trial. Just outside the city, the transport trucks stopped at the cemetery. Knowing they were about to be executed the group asked their Bishop for his blessing. He blessed them, saying, ‘Be brave, for within the hour we shall be reunited in the presence of the Lord.’ The Bishop led them in reciting the Creed together, and then they were forced to dig their graves. Attempting to undermine the faith of the people, the militia told the Bishop he would be spared if he renounced the faith. He refused, but he did have one request. He asked to die last so he could bless each person as they were killed, and surprisingly this request was granted. While blessing each one, one of the militiamen objected, shooting the Bishop through his right arm. In pain but undeterred, the Bishop refused to stop, and he continued to bless them with his left hand instead. Now left alone with none but his persecutors and Christ by his side, the good Bishop was placed in the line of fire and martyred.
May the life of our martyr Bl Salvio Huix-Miralpeix inspire us with that same zeal and love of God so powerfully witnessed in his martyrdom, so that we too may receive the grace of giving all we have to Christ for love of him.
Almighty and eternal God, who in your goodness bestowed on the bishop and martyr Salvio Huix the gift of pastoral charity even to the point of shedding of his blood for Christ and his Church, bestow on us also the grace to work faithfully in your vineyard and to experience his intercession in this life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.