Fray José López Piteira: The first Cuban blessed was a victim of communism

The priest Fray José López Piteirais the first Cuban beatified and was victim of communism during the Civil War in Spain.

The young Cuban belonged to the Order of San Agustín and was shot by the Spanish communists on November 30, 1936, along with 50 other monks, in Paracuellos del Jarama, on the outskirts of Madrid.

the friar Jose Lopez Piteira it was native of Jatibonico, in the Sancti Spíritus province. He was born on February 2, 1912 and was the fifth child of Don Emilio López Vilelo and Doña Lucinda Piteira Romero, Spanish emigrants living in Cuba.

In 1916 the family returned to Galicia, Spain, and decided to settle in Partovia. José grew up in this region until he studied General Education at the Benedictine Monastery of Santa María de San Clodio. At the age of 16 he began the novitiate in the Augustinian convent of Nuestra Señora del Buen Consejo de Leganés, in Madrid.

In 1929 he received his religious profession and studied three years of philosophy before completing his studies at the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorialwhere he professed his solemn vows on July 16, 1934. He was a good student, fond of music and an exemplary religious man.

In the summer of 1936, the year in which Jose Lopez Piteira He had to finish his studies and fulfill his dream of being ordained a priest, a coup d’état occurred in Spain that triggered an anti-religious persecution.

The Augustinian community of Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial She remained a prisoner in the cloister and a short time later they transferred a part of the religious to a jail in the Colegio de San Antón.

Among the detainees was friar joseph. His family took steps with Cuban consular officials and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic to get his freedom. However, the friar refused to abandon his companions in prison.

The father Natalia Herreroprior who had known him since the year of the novitiate, detailed these events:

“It is worth noting the response of the deacon Jose Lopez Piteira, born in Cuba, who, when told that he could assert that circumstance to obtain freedom, replied: ‘All of you who have been my educators, my teachers and my superiors are here. What am I going to do in the city? I prefer to follow everyone’s luck, and let it be what God wants.”

After being summarily tried, Fray José and the other 50 Augustinian monks were sentenced for being religious. The communists stripped them of everything, tied their hands behind their backs, and took them to Paracuellos de Jarama, where they were murdered.

Beatification of López Piteira and silence of the church in Cuba

On October 28, 2007, Jose Lopez Piteira became the first cuban blessed. The ceremony was held in the Vatican. That day, 496 people considered “martyrs of religious persecution” of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) were beatified.

The Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega (1936-2019) told the Cuban official press that the beatification of friar José López Piteira was “something very special”, but added that he is a “Cuban by birth”. It did not recognize him as the first blessed of Cuba.

“We await the beatification of the first Cuban, a Cuban” who is “Father Olallo Valdesa brother of Saint John of God,” and who will be “the first true Cuban blessed for us,” the cardinal said in 2007.

Ortega was a very important figure in the Cuban Catholic Church and was also linked to many controversy over his alleged support for the regime of the Castros.

The Father Olallo was the second Cuban Blessed, but his beatification ceremony was the first to be held in Cuba. It took place on November 29, 2008, in the Plaza de la Iglesia de la Virgen de la Caridad, in Camagüey.

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