Blessed Bartolome Blanco Marquez 1914-1936
By Sister Irene Hartman, OP
Holy Ones of Our Time
Blessed Bartolome is one of the youngest of the group of 498 martyrs beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on October 28th, 2007.
Bartolome was born in Pozoblanco, Cordoba, Spain on Nov. 25, 1914. He lost his parents when he was very young and was raised by his aunt and uncle. With his uncle’s help, Bartolome learned how to make chairs.
At an early age, he entered the Salesian school in Pozoblanco and was known to be an excellent student. Besides his studies, he helped as a catechist. At 18, he was elected youth secretary of Catholic Action in his home town.
For refusing to be mobilized in the government’s armed forces against Franco’s military rebellion of July, 1936, Bartolome was imprisoned. There he was in the company of fifteen priests and several laymen. He was judged and condemned to death for refusing to serve in the army. During his trial he remained faithful to his faith and religious convictions. He did not protest his death sentence and told the court that if he lived he would continue being an active Catholic. On October 2nd, 1936 at the age of 21, the barefoot Bartolome kissed his handcuffs to the surprise of his guards. He refused to be shot from behind. “Whoever died for Christ should be facing forward and standing straight. Long live Christ the King!” he shouted as he fell to the ground under a shower of bullets.
Letters which Bartolome wrote to his relatives on the eve of his death, show his profound faith: “May this be my last will: forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness; but indulgence, which I wish to be accompanied by doing them as much good as possible. Therefore, I ask you to avenge me with the vengeance of a Christian: returning much good to those who have tried to do me evil.”
To his dearest friend Maruja, Bartolome wrote on October 1st, 1936: “Your memory will remain with me to the grave, and as long as the slightest throb stirs my heart, it will beat for love of you. God has deemed fit to sublimate these worldly affections, ennobling them when we love each other in Him. Though in my final days, God is my light and what I long for; this does not mean that the recollection of the one dearest to me will not accompany me until the hour of my death.
“I am assisted by many priests who…what a sweet comfort -- pour out the treasures of grace into my soul, strengthening it. I look death in the eye, and believe my words, it does not daunt me or make me afraid.
“My sentence before the court of mankind will be my soundest defense before God’s court; in their effort to revile me, they have ennobled me; in trying to sentence me, they have absolved me; and by attempting to lose me, they have saved me. Do you see what I mean? Why, of course! Because in killing me, they grant me true life and in condemning me for always upholding the highest ideals of religion, country, and family, they swing open before me the doors of heaven.
“Be strong and make a new life; you are young and kind, and you will have God’s help, which I will implore upon you from His kingdom. Goodbye, until eternity, when we shall continue to love each other for life everlasting.”