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THE ORDER OF THE PIOUS SCHOOLS THE PIARIST FATHERS IN ASIA

The Life Of St. Joseph Calasanz
Saints, Martys, & Venerables
Calasanzian Family

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BLESSED JUAN AGRAMUNT

BLESSED MARTYR JUAN AGRAMUNT

(1907-1936)

 

Since July 18, 1936, in Castellon de la Plana City, Castellon de la Plana Province, Spain, where Fr. Jose  Agramunt was, the happenings took an aspect really antireligious. The Fr. Rector of the Pious Schools stood on his post while he was able to, but he allowed the Religious of the Community to look for a hiding place. On July 20, Fr. Agramunt decided to go to Almazora town, his native place, to his parents’ house, although it was not a secure place.

 

As in the whole province of Castellon, in Almazora, too, occurred the antireligious excesses. On day, the Parish Church and the Calvary Holy Christ were put on fire. That same day, Fr. Juan celebrated the Mass in the chapel of the Consolation Sisters, in secret, consuming the Hosts that were in the Tabernacle, to avoid profanation.

 

It is said that at the end of July, a lady found among the ruins of the Holy Christ Church a handful of hosts, next to a ciborium. Thinking that they would be consecrated, she took them with much care and brought them to Fr. Juan. Fr.Juan, instead of consuming them, as he had done with the hosts of the Consolation chapel, he wanted to go the Casstellon’s Archpriest to be instructed how to act in those circumstances. His brother told him not to go, but he considered an obligation to solve his matter of conscience. When he was in Castellon, somebody recognized him and denounced his presence before the Committee.

 

When after the conversation with the Archpriest he went back to Almazora, he found that the militiamen were waiting for him. At around 9 o’clock at night, he was taken to the city hall and from there to the jail. An hour before his brother Federico had been arrested, too.

During the first days of August, in the Almazora jai, there were almost 20 persons, four of them Priests, who were the first to be assassinated.  

 

A few days later, was taken out of the jail and assassinated, the Diocesan Priest Fr. Pascual Uso. Fr.Juan thought that soon his turn will arrive and he prepared for that with prayer. He considered it as a gift from God. He made his confession several times with the Diocesan Priest Fr. Jose Manuel Chulvi, the one who would be later on his martyrdom companion, and offered himself to hear the confessions of the prisoners, having for them all, words of encouragement: “They can take our lives, but nothing else”.

His mother and sister who used to visit him frequently, tried to find out, by all means, the freedom of Fr. Juan and their brother Federico. They were ready to sell even their whole property. When Fr, Juan knew that, he opposed it with courage, telling them that if it was the will of God that he would die as a martyr, he would be very happy dying as such.

 

The girl friend of his brother, trying to get the freedom of both, had the courage of going to the chief of the militiamen, telling him that the two brothers were of poor families , but honest and learned persons, so they could be beneficial to society… The answer was that she could get some hope for her boy friend, but nothing could be done for Fr. Juan, because he was a priest.

 

In this way, the hour of martyrdom arrived for Fr.Juan. On the night of August 13-14, he was taken out of the jail together with the Dicesan Priest Fr. Jose Manuel Chulvi.  His brother Federico gave him a strong embrace, telling him that he was ready to follow him, even to death, if it was necessary. But Fr. Juan answered him that it was not necessary to worry about him, because he was going to heaven. For the brother, the only thing he could do was to follow him with his eyes, until the car that took them, disappeared.

 

While he was taken to martyrdom, he remained calm. Even more: he gave the impression of being happy. He talked to the militiamen, telling them that he forgave them from the bottom of his heart.

 

After they arrived to a place called Pla de Museros, about 6 kilometer from Almazora, the car went out of the road and taking a country road, it stopped about 100 meters from the road. The two priests were obliged to get down and to go near to a vetch bush where they were killed.

 

It is said that Fr. Juan died on his knees and that his last words were words of pardon for his executioners.

 

The bodies were buried in a simple way, covered with not so much soil. A few days later, the Committee ordered that they would be sprayed with gasoline, burned and buried in the same place. From the body of Fr. Juan, some objects were kept intact, and they served to identify his body when at the end of the war, his relatives carried out the exhumation of the remains. His remains, together with the Dicesan Priest Fr. Jose Manuel Chulvi, were put in a niche in the cemetery of Almazora.

 

In spite of his youth – he died when he was 29 years old – Fr. Juan Agramunt left a nice remembrance in the Pious Schools and in his native place, not only because of his martyrdom, but also because of his examples as Religious and educator.    

 

He was born in the beautiful town of Almazora, Castellon Province, on February 14, 1907. He was the youngest in a family of four. Juan received a sound education from his parents Jose and Antonia. When he was a young boy, he was an altar boy at the Parish Church.  Since he had received a nice voice and talents for music, he used to sing during the liturgical ceremonies, with great edification of the faithful.

 

The closeness to the altar and the active participation in the liturgy ceremonies, contributed to sprout in him the desire to become a priest. The Parish Priest taught him the Latin elementary things. His family could not support him with the expenses in the seminary. It was his brother Jose who found the solution: since he had been a student of the Pious Fathers, he talked with Fr. Rector of Castellon and he got that Juan would be received in the Pious Schools. His brother Federico tells us that when Juan said goodbye to him, he started crying, and thinking that he wanted to go back from his decision, he told him; “If you want, you can remain at home”. To this, Juan answered: “No, I don’t want, but I don’t know if I will be able to face the studies. Only of one thing I am sure: nobody will complain about my effort and my behavior.r” 

 

He spent two year in the Masia del Pilar de Godelleta, giving proofs of his studying diligent and of his good conduct. The Piarist vocation was not for him a childish whim, but rather that it was deeply rooted in his spirit.

 

Thinking that he was ripe for the Novitiate, he went to Albarracin and took the Piarist habit at the beginning oif August, 1922. Under the direction of the Fr. Master, Andres Clement, started learning to live as a Religious, matching his happy and joyous character with the seriousness and the recollection of a formation house. He did not lose his good humor when he finished the novitiate and made his Profession on August 15, 1923. Since he had continuous fever, he could not go to Irache town, Navarra Province, to start his regular schooling year.    

 

In the Central House of Irache, where he arrived at the end of October of that year 1923, after the schooling year had started, he dedicated in body and spirit to the Philosophical and Theological studies, matters for the future educator. He was excellent in music. He had practiced if from childhood. He was gifted  with a very nice voice of baritone and an acute ear. He had good theoretical knowledge, too.

 

In 1923,he was sent to Masia for the second Juniorate and to finish his Theological studies. On February 15, 1928, he emitted the Solemn Profession. He was ordained as a priest in December 1930.

 

His pedagogical qualities, his priesthood apostolate, his talents for the music and the joyous character, were manifested very well during the years he practiced the Piarist ministry at the schools of Gandia, Albacete and Catellon. They were really happy years. In Gandia lived from 1929 until 1932. During Christmas days, he went to Almazora to sing his first Mass in the Parish Church where he had received the baptism. That day was a great day for the whole family and for the whole town, watching the old altar boy to go on the altar as a minister of the Lord.  

 

There were starting the first political changes and the first antireligious manifestations. There were years when the Religious and the schools should uncover their identity in order to be able to continue the educative ministry. In spite of everything, the families continued trusting their sons to the Piarist Fathers, wanted to be educated in faith and formed in the Christian virtues.

 

In Abacete City, he was in charge of teaching at the High School, practicing his edicational ministry with the accustomed happiness, but at the same time, seriously. He knew how to be with students and he was considered by them as one of the most efficacious teachers.

 

During the school year 1935-1936, he was destined to the Castellon de la Plana City School, near Almazora, as Prefect. He fulfilled this job until the end of the schooling year, the moment he had to take refuge.

 

“His Piarist career was short, but intense - wrote Fr. Calasanz Bau. After a happy childhood, a good formation, and seven years of complete dedication to the teaching ministry, he was crowned with the testimony of his blood, the supreme proof of his love for Christ”. 

 

After he was jailed, he was not able to go out, in spite of the trying of his relatives. The only reason, because he was a minister of Christ. During the time in jail, he always was serene: he exercised his Priestly ministry, he received the Penance sacrament from the Diocesan Priest Fr. Jose Manuel Chulvi, his companion in the martyrdom. He wanted to die without showing the back, on his knees, pronouncing the words of pardon.

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