To the Members of the Vincentian Family
That is what a Christian is made of, and that is the courage we must have in order to suffer and die, when necessary, for Jesus Christ (words of Vincent de Paul when speaking about the death of Pedro Bourgñy (CCD:XI:290).
My dear brothers and sisters, we have just received a letter from the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Carlos Osoro Sierra, in which he communicates great news to the Vincentian Family in Spain and throughout the rest of the world: on November 11th, 2017 sixty (60) witnesses of the faith, men and women who shed their blood and who are members of our large Vincentian Family, will be beatified in Madrid.
- 40 are members of the Congrega1on of the Mission (24 priests and 16 brothers)
- 5 are diocesan priests (the diocese of Murcia) who served as spiritual advisors to the various lay Associa1ons of the Vincen1an Family
- 2 are Daughters of Charity
- 7 are members of the Children of Mary (today known as the Vincen1an Marian Youth)
- 6 are members of the Miraculous Medal Associa1on.
All of these individuals were martyred during the religious persecution which took place during the time of Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). Happily, the event of the beatification takes places during the 400th anniversary of the origin of the Vincentian charism.
We all know that Vincent de Paul, as a result of his experience in Folleville and Châtillon, discovered the need for mission and charity. Those are the most significant elements that will lead the Vincentian Family to its fullness and holiness. It is in that same missionary context and with that same option for the most vulnerable members of society, that we must place the courageous witness of these new martyrs. With calmness they professed their faith in Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord and with courage they defended the values that are proclaimed in the gospel.
The made the heroic act of forgiving their executioners, thus imitating Jesus himself. Our Founder once proclaimed: there is no greater love than martyrdom.
The martyrdom of these sixty Vincentians, is a gift, a grace and an example that encourages us to fidelity: Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad for your reward will be great in heaven (Matthew 5:11-12).
In a world characterized by caprice, short-term plans and the search for well-being at whatever cost, these new martyrs become points of reference who speak to us about the beauty of a life given to God and about disinterested service on behalf of others. It is clear that the witness of the martyrs is not some form of improvisation but rather, is the result of a life oriented towards the Gospel or, to say this in another way, martyrdom is the fruit of permanent fidelity, the heroic act of mature individuals and of convinced and principled Christians.
It is most probable that none of us will have to face a bloody martyrdom. Persecutions today are carried out in a “more civilized” manner. Nevertheless, we are all called to cultivate and strengthen and value the gift of fidelity, which is the basis of all martyrdom. Indeed, fidelity, understood in a dynamic way, will always give new life to our vocation as evangelizers and servants of the poor.
The beatification of the new martyrs on November 11th and this Vincentian Jubilee Year can stimulate us to grow in “creative fidelity”. May we live our vocation in a creative way in the midst of this world of unbelief, in the midst of this world in which so many of our brothers and sisters experience misery as an everyday reality.
This on-going dedication is what the Church and the world expect of us as Vincentians:
Take care of your poor life. Be content with consuming it little by little for Divine Love. It is not your own; it belongs to the Author of Life, for love of whom you must preserve it until he asks for it, unless an opportunity arises to offer it, like a good priest, eighty years of age, who was just martyred in England after a cruel torture (CCD:II:211-121).
Like St. Vincent, we also believe that the Vincentian Family is not weakened by the cruel death of several of its sons and daughters. From the history of the Church we know that the exact opposite is true. As Tertullian pointed out in the second century:
The blood of the martyrs is the seed of Christians. The Church has grown and spread thanks to the silent preaching of her holy martyrs … the same can be said of our Family: for those who will suffer martyrdom, many more will come; their blood will be like the seed the brings forth fruit, and fruit in abundance (CCD:X:443).
Sincerely, your brother in Saint Vincent Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, CM
Explanation in English of the logo
The central element of the logo is the CROSS, an expression of Jesus’ great love … Jesus the first martyr. The cross is also an expression of the martyr’s decision to lay down their life when confronted with the reality of death, thus uniting themselves to Jesus Christ.
The cross colored in red symbolizes the blood that was shed by Jesus and by the martyrs who gave their life for Jesus. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Revelation 12:11).
The “M” which supports the cross, reminds us of the back of the Miraculous Medal, reminds us of Mary of Nazareth who gave birth to the Savior, reminds us of the Virgin Mother who united herself to her son as she stood beneath the cross on Calvary (cf. John 19:25). The martyrs of the Vincentian Family distinguished themselves by their devotion to the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal … Our Lady who strengthened them at the time of their witness and strengthened them at the time they shed their blood because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
The palm which accompanies the cross and that is formed as a flame of fire is a symbol of the martyrdom of the first Christians (with whom the martyrs of 20th century Spain united themselves). Furthermore, it is a symbol of the final victory that has overcome the world (1 John 5:4).
The flames of fire represent the Holy Spirit who descended upon the Apostles on the feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:3) … the Spirit who gave them courage to be witnesses for Christ. The flames are also a symbol of the mission of believers who are called to be light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
The face of Vincent de Paul, taken from the logo for the 400th anniversary of the origin of the Vincentian charism, reminds us that the martyrs of the Vincentian Family of the twentieth century in Spain are also witnesses of charity and evangelization. They gave witness to charity on behalf of their more vulnerable brothers and sisters … and their love led them to engage in the supreme act of charity as they laid down their lives as martyrs.
The circle around the cross (MARTYRS OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY — VINCENTIAN FAMILY) is an expression of the fullness of life to which God calls us and which the martyrs now enjoy.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM