Saturday, October 9, 2010

October 9 - Innocencio of Mary Immaculate, Martyr, Confessor, Priest

Emanuele Canoura Arnau was born in Spain in the late nineteenth century. Like many in his generation, he aspired to the priesthood from a relatively young age. In fact, he began his seminary training with the Passionists at the age of fourteen. At the dawn of the twentieth century), Emanuele was preparing to serve a new generation in an increasingly divided Spain. As Emanuele was finishing up his studies and beginning to serve as a minister of the people, the Bolsheviks were gaining power in Russia. He took the name Innocencio of Mary Immaculate. The crown of martyrdom was still a long way off but circumstances were being prepared that would cost Innocencio everything that he was willing to give up. His confession would be tested and his life would be weighed against another Empire's desire to stamp out other stories.

As a priest, Innocencio was especially gifted at hearing confession. He accepted the words of the people of God and cradled them lovingly regardless of their content. He understood that confession is a holy thing--a healing thing--and that it requires a sacred touch and approach. As he held the confessions of the people and offered them up to God, he served as a conduit for grace and forgiveness giving permission to the people to walk away from their bondage to sin. His touch and his willing ear were highly esteemed. It is for this reason that Innocencio was in the Roman Catholic school in Turon in 1934. Spain was preparing for what would be known as the Spanish Civil War but the brothers at Turon were preparing the children of the community for their first communion. Innocencio had come to hear their confessions and pronounce absolution. He had come to invest himself further in the lives of the people of God.

The loyalist soldiers that invaded the school were worried about the impact that the brothers were having on young children and the people of Turon. They arrested the priests and brothers in the school because of their commitment to a power that wasn't of their own allegiance. In some ways, Innocencio was not one of their number but he was present with them hearing the confessions of the people. For this sacred calling of companionship with the people of God, Innocencio was condemned to die. On the morning of October 9th, 1934, Innocencio (and nine others with him) was executed for treason to a worldly kingdom. Since the loyalists could not convert him, they chose to end his life so that he might not continue to spread peace, absolution, and forgiveness that they did not sanction. The martyrdom of Innocencio stands as his own confession of his faith and willingness to prefer the Kingdom of God to the promises of the world.

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