Thursday, October 29, 2015

Blessed Fray José López Piteira, Catholic Martyr and Cuban

Cortesia de Miguel Uría:

Blessed Fray José López Piteira, Catholic Martyr and Cuban

On Sunday, October 28, 2007, in Vatican Square, the first native born Cuban was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI, the last step on the road to sainthood and the fartherest that any Cuban has ever gotten on that road. His name is José López Piteira, born on February 2, 1912, in the town of Jatibonico, Camaguey Province. He was ordained a deacon on September 8, 1935, the feast of Our Lady of Charity, patroness of Cuba. He died a martyr for the faith at the hands of the Communists, killed not in Cuba but in Spain, during its Civil War (1936-39). He was 24 years old, the youngest of 50 Augustinian monks from the El Escorial Monastery to be executed at the orders of Santiago Carrillo, the political commissar of Madrid personally responsible for the murder of 3000 priests, nuns and other religious. They were variously crucified, burnt at the stake, or, as in the case of Fray José and his companions, shot by firing squad, at Paracuellos de Jarama, November 30, 1936. Yes, in the 20th century; within living memory; only 70 years ago. He did not have to die. He was a Cuban citizen and could have saved himself by invoking his nationality, but he refused to abandon his brothers in Christ and insisted on sharing their fate.

His last words, all too familiar to another generation of Cubans, were ¡Viva Cristo Rey!

Fray José will be beatified along with 495 other martyrs of the Spanish Civil War. This will be the largest beatification in the 2000-year history of the Church. Although the pope does not personally officiate at beatifications anymore, he will do so this time to punctuate the importance of this occasion and the Church's displeasure with the historical revisionism of Spain's governing Socialist Party, political allies and heirs to the killers of Blessed Fray José López Piteira and the other martyrs for the faith.
What is Beatification?

The declaration by the pope as head of the Church that one of its communicants has lived a saintly life as a believer or died a heroic death as a martyr and is dwelling in the happiness of heaven. (Yes, there is now a Cuban in heaven!). Those who have been declared Blessed are entitled to veneration by the faithful. Prayers may be raised to them; their images may be placed in churches and their feast days celebrated, especially in localities and orders associated with their lives. The difference between saints and the blessed is that saints are not merely entitled to local veneration, but must be venerated by the Universal Church. For one who is Blessed to be canonized (declared a saint) two miracles must be attributed to his intercession. God willing, perhaps the first miracle that Blessed Fray José will perform will be the liberation of Cuba from Communism.
H/T to Mom and Dad for this!

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