BLESSED MARTYR MANUEL SEGURA
Fr. Manuel Segura had been appointed Master of Novices just
a little before happened the things
that so much disturbed the Piarist Community in Peralta de la Sal.
When in that sad afternoon of July 23, 1936, arrived to the
school about 40 extremists of Binefar town, with the intention of burning the school and killing the Religious, Fr. Dionisio
Pamplona, Superior of the house, got together the Brothers
and informed them about the critical situation they were. Fr. Segura, immediately went to the window and asked the novices
and postulants who were playing in the playground, to be silent. They did not know the situation and he explained to them
the danger they were facing. They put on the lay clothes, and all together in the chapel, he told them:
a few moments, we will be before the Supreme Judge. Prepare your soul with a sincere act of contrition, since I want to give
you the Absolution”.
After a while, the foreigners went out of the town. Then, the
novices, believing that the danger had passed, put on again the cassocks and they went near the entrance of the school from
where they could see a big fire toward Calasanz town. The extremists from Binefar, after they saw that they could not burn
the school in Peralta, they had gone to that town and they burned the Church of the town.
At 20:30 P.M., by order of the Committee, all the Religious,
novices and postulants were taken to the Llari house, selected as a provisional jail.
On July 24, Fr.Faustino Pamplona, Rector and Parish Priest,
was arrested. He was taken to the Monzon jail and shot down on the night of July
In the house of Llari, the Religious, novices and postulants,
organized the piety practices as if they were at home. Reciting everyday the Office of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Rosary.
They used to pray in a low voice, so that the guardians would not be angry, but they did it with great fervor, preparing themselves,
with courage, for what the Lord would send them.
In the afternoon of 24 and in the morning of 25, feast of St.
James the Apostle, all confessed to Fr. Manuel Segura and Fr. Faustino Oteiza. On the 24, Fr. Segura, who in the absence of
Fr. Dionisio took the place of the Superior, sent two men
to the school, around noon, in order to take the Eucharistic Hosts that were left in the chapel of the novitiate. He recommended
to wrapped them in a newspaper so that they were not suspected. On the morning of the 25th., two by two, the prisoners
in Llari’s house went by the room of Fr. Segura, receiving the Communion with the fervor one receives the Viaticum.
On the 26th., one member of the Committee, together
with another person, arrived to Llari’s house. He told Fr. Manuel that in that house there were too many young people
and they should be distributed among the families in the town. Fr. Manuel, saw, with pain, how his flock was dispersed and
he said goodbye to all of them with tears in his eyes, embracing each one of them. In the Llari’s house remained the
four old ones, to make company to the Religious. At 11:00 A.M., an edict was published inviting the families to accept the
novices and postulants, a thing that was done, even with rivalry, accepting in their houses the young people. When in the
afternoon they came back to Llari’s house to visit the Religious, they told them about the destruction made in the school
church and the putting down of the stature of St.Joseph Calasanz, later on melt for arms.
After these happenings, a certain short calm arrived, until
the morning of 28th., when three cars with armed foreigners arrived to Peralta, in order to arrest the fascists
and the priests that were in the town. After they were informed that in the Llari’s house there were two Fathers and
two Brothers, they thought of killing them immediately. The people of the town, to calm them, gave to them Fr. Manuel Segura
and Bro. David, avoiding in this way the shooting of Fr. Faustino Oteiza, sick, and Bro. Florentin Felipe, rather old.
At around 10:00 o’clock in the morning, arrived to Llari’s
house a foreigner from Tarragona Province and a person from the town, armed with rifles and asking for Fr. Manuel Segura and
Bro. David Carlos. When both of them came out, the foreigner said: “Be ready, Fr. Manuel and Bro. David, to go to Aren
to send the young people to their parents”. Fr. Faustino Oteiza, in a letter to the Provincial of Aragon, narrates the
fact as follows:
we realized that it was an excuse. Fr, Manuel said; ‘I am going to put on my shoes’. We entered the room and kneeling
told me: ’Give me the absolution’. Bro, David did the same later on. We embraced with love and we repeated”
“Goodbye, until heaven’. Filled with joy, they presented themselves to the guards, who took them in the car as
far as the shooting place. I even had the courage to tell them: ‘When you are in heaven, pray for us and for me in particular’.
‘We will do it’ they answered.
The place of the martyrdom was near Gabasa town, in a place
facing Purroy, near some bushes by the road. The bodies were burned out”.
Before leaving the town, the two Religious
were taken to the plaza before the School where they could see with their own eyes the holy images and the vestments of the
church spread on the floor, and the stature of St.Joseph Calasanz knocked down on the floor. When they were to depart, a young
man who wanted to see the shooting of the two Religious, got on the car. The driver of the car ordered him to get out, and
the young man answered: “Yes, I will go out, but before that I am going to give
a pair of slaps to these bandits”. And he did it. The car started towards Purroy de la Solana, and near there, Fr.
Manuel and Bro. David were obliged to get down. Reaching some bushes, around 50 meters from the road, they were shot and left
gravely wounded. Their bodies were spread with gasoline and burned out, among big cries. The shooting persons had to go again
to Gabasa town to get more gasoline in order to be able to finish the incineration of the bodies.
A friend of the Piarists who had the occasion
of seeing the bodies of the two Religious before they were destroyed by the fire, affirms that they had the face and the eyes
directed to heaven and the arms crossed on their chests.
When the war was over and the place was
recognized, they still found some ash traits and some small parts of bones. Everything was gathered in a box and they are
kept in the Piarist Church of Peralta.
In the place of the martyrdom, a small monument
was erected with the following inscription:
“From here flew to heaven the Piarists
Fr. Manuel Segura, born on 1-21-1881 and killed on the 7-28-1936
Bro. David Carlos, born on 12-29-1907 and killed on 7-28-1936
Coelo tegitur qui nullam habet urnam
(The sky covers the ones who do not have any tomb)
Fr. Manuel Segura was born on January 22,
1881, in a family formed by Francisco and Francisca, poor in material goods, but rich in Christian virtues, as the simple
people of Almonacid de la Sierra are, in Zaragoza Province. Since childhood he excelled
among his companions in virtue and kindness.
When he was only 6 years old and started to go to school, he
became an altar boy at the Parish. Probably we could say that his nearness to the altar was the source of his desire of becoming
The Parish Priest, Fr. Manuel Sanchez, who since then admired
his humility, obedience and diligence in what he used to do, remembers that in his plays he manifested the desire of becoming
a priest, since he used to look for things with which he simulated as being a priest and to celebrate Mass, rising among his
companions good religious sentiments. He did the same in the intimacy of the family, being admired by his parents because
of his virtues and extraordinary diligence. But his desire of becoming a priest was facing the real poverty of his family,
becoming worse with the death of the father, when Manuel was only 12 years old. The good Parish Priest helped him, who started
giving him Latin classes and he tried that he would be admitted as a working student in the Piarist School of Zaragoza. In
this way, he was able to study and prepare himself for the novitiate. He started it when he was 18 years old, on November
His many faculties started
to appear since the first years of formation, in the Novitiate and in the Juniorate. His classmates remember him as a model
of perfection that edified and was admired. He really showed a great working power, in the studies as well as in the charity
practice. He was always ready for the most humble works in the common service and for anything that could be of help for any
of the companions. He used to do it without ostentation, with the only desire of being useful to the Community.
He made his first Profession on August 18, 1901. His Philosophical
studies were done in Irache, Navarra Province,
and his Theological ones in Alcaniz, Teruel Province.
He emitted his Solemn Profession in Alcaniz, on June 1, 1906. He was ordained as a priest on May 25, 1907, in Barbastro, Huesca Province.
He taught during nine years in the following schools: Barbastro
(1906-1907), Tamarite de Litera (1907-1911), Alcaniz (1911-1914), Pamplona
(1914-1915). He worked as a “good soldier of Christ”, as we read in his official chronological memory, with diligence
and love, gaining the affection and hearts of all his students, as well as the sincere appreciation of the families. Fr. Martin
Espanol, who knew him when he was a simple teacher in Tamarite de Litera, admired him because of his pedagogical qualities.
Fr. Martin continued keeping his way of teaching. And when Fr. Martin was named Master of Postulants in Tafalla, he asked
for him as an assistant.
From 1915 to 1936, the year of his death, Fr. Segura dedicated
himself to the spiritual and cultural formation of the young Piarist aspirants. This is the field where he put into practice
most of his apostolate, hidden and always fruitful. His work started in Tafalla, as an assistant of the Postulants Master.
The testimonies agree when they say that he was admired, in a special way, because of his patience and kindness regarding
the postulants, for whom he was a true counseling angel. It is remembered that when one of them celebrated his birthday, he
was called apart and talked with him asking different questions, manifesting a great interest about his person. It was a great
gesture regarding those young persons, not always properly understood and may be not treated very well by their immediate
Superiors. His class, according to his graduates, was an oasis of peace and tranquility.
We have also some data about his priestly zeal. In the church
of our school in Tafalla, with many people attending, he had opportunities in administering the sacraments, preaching and
the pastoral care of different groups that where in the School, such as Arch-confraternity of Guards of Honor and of St. Vincent
Fr. Segura went with the group of Postulants when they were
moved to Torre de Cascajo (1922), Zaragoza Province.
His daily work was spent in helping the young people, classes and his Priestly ministry, thinking only in pleasing God and
helping the young men entrusted to him. The most prominent aspect of his personality, as Fr. Valentin Aisa remembers, who
met him in Cascajo, was his humility and efficacy. We could see him as the un-known Piarist, taking for himself the “weight
of the day and its hardness”, the most difficult and what was least glittering, almost without anybody knowing it, not
the Superior, nor the companions.
When he used to go to Almonacid de la Sierra, his native town,
during vacations, the most relevant was his humility and simplicity. His native companions keep a good image of Fr. Segura,
as Fr. Juan Otal could observe, when he was Postulator of the Order and he went gathering some testimonies.
At Torre de Cascajo, he also dedicated himself
to the Priestly ministry, among the students at Zaragoza Academy, near the Torre. The students used to go to the Torre for confessions and communion.
In the same way, with the children around the Torre, who every year made their First Communion. There were, too, some going
out at nigh when they were called for a grave sick person.
In 1932, because of the political situation, the Postulants
were moved to Peralta de la Sal. Fr. Manuel, besides being named Master of Postulants, he was named, too, Vice-Rector of the
house and assistant of the Master of Novices. The letter asking Fr. General for his nomination gives the motivation:
is, as the Fr. Master (Fr. Oteiza), a saint, and the two will carried out very well the Novitiate”.
In 1934, since Fr. Faustino Oteiza was sick,
Fr. Manuel Segura was nominated Master of Novices, and nothing was lacking in the fulfillment of his delicate work. He was
excellent in charity and kindness. His affection was proverbial, so much that they used to say that he was father and mother.
He used to mend the clothes for novices and postulants, offering to them the affection the mothers know to give to their children.
There are not extraordinary acts or exceptional
virtues in his existence. Whoever knew him, as Fr. Francisco Sipan, agrees that in his life “everything was pure gold,
without any tinsel. He went through the world doing good, without making much noise, as the good goes”.
His death was also hidden and without any
noise. The only witness was Bro. David Carlos, who shared with him the palm of martyrdom upon that bare spot near the road
from Gabasa town to Purroy de la Solana town.