During the communist outburst in the Spanish Province of the Asturias, (October last,) atrocities were committed which recalled the bloody orgies of Emperor Nero. To give a few instances: a priest, Fr. Villanueva, Director of a Seminary, was sprinkled with petrol by the Reds and burnt alive; another priest was hanged to a butcher's-hook in a stall with the bill : Pork for sale; another one cut out to pieces had his remains exposed as butcher's meat. These same Communists also blew up two Convents with their inmates,—poor defenceless nuns,—whom they previously had violated. In a village, they forced a priest to celebrate a Requiem Mass near the brink of a trench where they had piled up the still warm bodies of their victims; and as he was pronouncing the last prayers, they felled him with a double shot in the back. Some soldiers who had fallen in to their hands were first scalped, then beheaded and the heads thrown, as toys, to the mob. Policemen were fastened to trees and blown up with dynamite, etc., etc. It has been said that in the only city of Oviedo the people slaughtered by the Communists reached 2,000. For the edification of our readers we reprint below, from T H E ROCK, an account written by the Superior of the Jesuit Fathers of some of these still recent events which took place in the North-western part of Spain. (Ed. M . C . L . ) .
A GRAPHIC ACCOUNT.
(By Fr. Enrique Carvajal, SJ.) I am writing this in order to make known how the members of the Society of Jesus fared in Asturias, the principal theatre of the recent revolution, and especially to give an account of the shooting— may we not call it the martyrdom ?—of Fr. Emilio Martinez and Brother Juan Arconada.
Definite news of their death, which took place on the 7th October, did not reach me until the 23rd and I determined to travel at once to Asturias to see for myself how matters stood there. No one who is aware of the intensity of what was nothing less than a civil war will be surprised at the news being so long delayed, for, not only was Asturias completely isolated from the rest of Spain, but communications between the various towns of the province were interrupted during the conflict. Even in Oviedo no one knew what was happening in the next street. We began to suspect that something serious must have happened to Fr. Martinez and Br. Arconada, when we learned that the strain from Carrion, where the one had been giving, the other making, a Retreat, had been stopped by revolutionaries at Ujo; but it was impossible to make any inquiries until the troops had taken this town and civilians were allowed to enter.
When communications had been re-established—though only to a very limited extent—the Superior at Gijon at once obtained a military pass for Fr. Gomez del Castillo and Br. Egozcoe, who, tracing step by step the path followed by the dead priest and brother, were enabled to piece together th story of their last days on earth.
I give the report of Fr. Gomez del Castillo in his own words:— " On the 4th October Fr. Emilio and Br. Arconada were returning from Carrion on the Madrid- Gijon express. They left Palencia at 4 pm., and instead of arriving at Giion at 10 o'clock the same night, thev only reached Ujo at 4:45 on the morning of the 5th. The revolutionaries would not allow the train to proceed further. Fr Martinez and Br. Arconada, however, managed to get away from the station. They inquired for the house of Senor Muniz, a good Catholic whose sons are pupils at one of our colleges, but it was to the house of another gentleman of the same name they were directed. He received them kindly, provided F r . Martinez with civilian clothes and kept them both as guests for two days. (In accordance with the usual Spanish custom, Br. Arconada was travelling in civilian attire). "
On Sunday the 7th, at about 9.30 a.m., members of the Revolutionary Committee* arrived to search the house for arms, and Senor Muniz, with his son-in-law, was taken away under arrest. While the search was in progress, F r . Emilio and Br. Arconada, fearing that their presence might compromise the family, slipped away and took refuge in another house near the station. Here they remained only a quarter of an hour, for the place did not appear sufficiently safe; and on the advice of Senor Junquera, of Gijon, a refugee like themselves, they finally decided to make for Oviedo. "
All three took to flight, making their way along the slope of a hill for over an hour. Towards 12 o'clock they descended by a lane called Tejera to the main road at the railway terminus of Santullano. A few minutes later they were arrested at the bridge and brought to the Town Hall, where F r . Emilio and Br. Arconada were condemned to death merely because they were religious. Senor Junquera would have been condemned also as a Fascist, but an old foreman from the mines, Jose Iglesias, spoke in his defence, and he was set at liberty with a safe conduct which Fr. Martinez wrote and which the revolutionaries signed with a cross, as they knew little or nothing about the use of the pen. Iglesias spoke also on behalf of the Father and Brother, urging in defence of the former that his life was dedicated to the service of the workers and their children; but he failed to move the Revolutionary Committee. They maintained the sentence of death, calling the victims deceivers of the people.'
" The prisoners were kept in the Town Hall for ten hours, during which time they had to endure many insults, and listen to horrible blasphemies against God. In the evening they asked for a little coffee and milk as they had taken nothing since breakfast. This was brought by some poor women, who were insulted as they passed by the three armed sentries on duty outside.
" Towards 10 o'clock they were removed in a small lorry. Upon arriving at the Lacoca pit-head, near the entrance to Mieres, they were ordered to get down, one of the guards remarking: “ This is the end of the journey/ There, on the roadside close to the pithead, seeing the guards were about to shoot them, the two embraced and then calmly faced the rifles with a cry of Viva Cristo Rey! ("Long Live Christ the King ! " ) .
" They fell mortally wounded, and were finally despatched with blows of the rifle butts. Afterwards, the bodies were brought to the cemetery of Mieres where they were thrown on the ground and left unburied until the evening of the 8th. They were then buried in the one grave, together with the murdered body of Don Tomas Escribano, a sergeant of the Civil. Guard.
"I made all these inquiries on the 22nd of October in company with Br. Joaquim Egozcoe, interrogating numerous people, who had seen the two either making their way along the hillside or descending to the main road, or actually being arrested on the bridge of Santullano. We visited and carefully examined the place of the shooting. We spoke to the workman who heard the rifle-shots, and to his wife who washed up the blood at the Lacoca pit-head on the morning of the 8th. They gave us a detailed description of Fr . Emilio and Br. Arconada.
Next, we went to the cemetery of Mieres, where the grave-digger also described them and pointed out the grave where their mortal remains lay, with those of Sergeant Escribano. As a result of these investigations made on the 22nd, we became morally certain that the two had been barbarously and cruelly shot because they were religious and Jesuits.
- Malaya Catholic Leader, March 2nd, 1935 (1935.pdf pp84)