Bl. Joseph Tàpies (1869-1936) and Six Companions
The seven priests of the Diocese of Urgell, Spain, assassinated out of hatred for the faith during the persecution as part of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), were imprisoned in the city of La Pobla de Segur (Lleida, Catalonia). They were shot to death at the gateway to the cemetery of the nearby town of Salás de Pallars in August 1936.
Their names are: Joseph Tàpies Sirvant; Pascal Araguás Guárdia; Silvester Arnau Pasqüet; Joseph Boher Foix; Francis Castells Brenuy; Peter Martret Moles; and Joseph John Perot Juanmartí.
Joseph Tàpies Sirvant was born in Ponts, Lleida, Spain, in 1869 and was ordained a priest in 1892. He carried out his priestly ministry as parochial vicar and as church organist in La Pobla de Segur. He was known for his integrity, steadfastness and goodness to all, and people sought him out for his gift of good counsel.
Passing in front of his parish church on the truck that was to carry him to his death, he said: "Goodbye, Blessed Virgin of Ribera, I am going to Heaven!".
Pascal Araguás Guárdia was born in Pont de Claverol, Lleida, in 1899 and was ordained a priest in 1923 in the Cathedral of "Santa Maria de La Seu" of Urgell. He served as coadjutor and econome in various parishes and was parish priest of Noals. He was known for his humble and gentle character, and people remembered him as a person always dedicated to proclaiming God's glory and to living, thinking and working for the good of others.
When he arrived at Salás de Pallars and began climbing the slope to the execution site, he said: "I will climb up barefoot, just as Jesus climbed up to Calvary".
Silvester Arnau Pasqüet was born in Gósol, Lleida, in 1911 and was ordained a priest in 1935. He served as parochial vicar of La Pobla de Segur. He was known for his deep spirituality born from an intense cultivation of ascetical and mystical theology. He was the youngest of 107 priests of Urgell to be assassinated.
Fr Arnau would tell the other priests: "We must be ready in every moment to be persecuted and prepare ourselves for martyrdom. We must desire this and if the Lord grants such a thing to me, it will be a very special grace".
In answer to repeated offers to save his young life by leaving the other priests, he replied that he would never leave them or his parish priest. "Wherever the parish priest goes, I will follow him". They were imprisoned, condemned and martyred together.
Joseph Boher Foix was born in Sant Salvador de Toló, Lleida, in 1887 and was ordained a priest in 1914. He served as coadjutor and econome in various parishes, and in 1929 he was appointed parish priest of Pobleta de Bellveí. He was pious, intelligent and well loved by all.
When soldiers came looking for him in the parish he held his ground, but he was taken away, led to trial with the other priests. At the cemetery he said: "Here is my wallet with everything I have; I give it to you so that together with committing a crime you do not commit theft".
At the moment of death, he cried out: "I forgive you in the name of all. Long live Christ the King!".
Francis Castells Brenuy was born in La Pobla de Segur, Lleida, in 1866. In 1889 he was ordained a priest and appointed prefect and professor of philosophy in the diocesan seminary. He also served in various parishes and was econome of the parish of El Poal. During the persecution in 1936 he was arrested and abused. Afterwards, he went to stay with his family in La Pobla de Segur, where he was again arrested, tried and condemned to death.
As he arrived at the execution site, a member of the commission was heard to say: "We can let Fr Castells go free"; but another replied that no priest should be freed and that his greatest joy would be to see him executed. Fr Castells answered: "I forgive you", and the other responded: "I do not need anyone's forgiveness".
Peter Martret Moles was born in Seu de Urgell, Lleida, in 1901 and was ordained a priest in 1925. He carried out his priestly ministry in various parishes, and in 1931 he was appointed as econome of the parish of La Pobla de Segur. He was a learned, energetic, dynamic priest who promoted the "Federation of Christian Youth of Catalonia", part of Catholic Action.
Fr Martret was imprisoned together with his coadjutors and killed, offering his life for the good of the faithful of La Pobla de Segur.
Joseph John Perot Juanmartí was born in Boulonge, France, in 1877. When he was young he moved to Oliana, Lleida, Spain, and studied in the diocesan seminary of Urgell. He was ordained a priest in 1903 and served in different diocesan parishes. In 1921 he was appointed parish priest of "Sant Joan di Vinyafrescal".
When he heard that soldiers were coming to take him to trial and to death, he courageously responded: "If they come for me, I will be here waiting".
These and many other priests were executed during the Spanish Civil War simply because they were priests; they could be accused of nothing else.