August 12th, 2021 marks the 85 anniversary of her death as a martyr of the XX century

MIAMI.- On August 12, Victoria Díez de Molina is remembered all over the world for her testimony of faith in the face of persecution. She was not a martyr of the early era but of the present, in the middle of the XX century. An example of fortitude for the current difficult times, when so may Christians are being persecuted.

As she was being taken to her execution, the 32 year-old teacher did not stop encouraging her  companions.

“Do not be afraid! Take courage !  I see the heavens open,” she would say,  repeating the words of Stephen, the first martyr.

Cardinal Eduardo Pironio, who, during years, was the head of the pontifical Council for the Laity, in the Vatican, said of her that ” Victoria must be for the laity a voice of encouragement to live the extraordinary in the ordinary.” An he pointed  out that, what is significant about her is  “the simplicity of her life in the family and as a public-school teacher, and the fact that she was able to grow spiritually in maturity of holiness in the midst of it all. Her death as a martyr is only the seal of a live full of love.”

Victoria, first right, with companion students in Seville

Those who knew Victoria say that she was an excellent rural school teacher who fulfilled her professional obligations without compromising her faith; this is what put her life at risk. 

When in 1928 she was assigned by the State to the public school of Hornachuelos, a small village in the Andalusian province of Cordoba, all Europe was attempting to  escape from the influence that religion had played in a society,  identified as Christian for centuries.

But this inevitable process of secularization was taking a violent turn in Spain. Catholic institutions were being labelled as reactionaries and backwards. And liberal governments were dictating  measures to abolish any religious influence from society. 

Victoria with her cousins Evaristo and Rosario about the year 1921

This is what Victoria lived during her eight years as teacher in Hornachuelos. Through involvement with the Teresian Association, began by St.Pedro Poveda in 1911, she was well prepared to  live her faith in difficult times. Her youthful 25 years were  not an obstacle for action. She demonstrated to be a good educator who dared to confront the mayor of the village when, on the occasion of a book fair, he had brought to the school books that were offending to believers. Besides fulfilling her professional obligations, Victoria organized Catholic Action groups and night courses for working  women. She extended the school  buildings, organized support and help to needy families and set in place  religious instruction for the children. And when  Government regulations decreed that public school teachers could not be involved in religious instruction in their own church, she trained her mother and women of the town so that the catechesis could continue.

Small and with poor heath, Victoria earned soon the respect and support of all. That is why, on the morning of August 11th , 1936, the people could not believe that the teacher had been  taken to jail. Civil war had broken out in Spain  and there was chaos in the streets of many cities.

The path walked by Victoria on the way to the abandoned mine where she was shot

The next morning at dawn, Victoria and 17 men were taken out of their detention place and, all tied up, were forced to walk  eight miles through a mountain trail to a deserted area where there was an abandoned mine.

“Courage, don not cry, we are headed to martyrdom! “She would tell their companions.

One of her shoes broke but the militiamen would only scoff at her: ” Didn’t you want to suffer for Christ? Don’t try to fix it. You won’t need it for long. You are not returning alive.”

Every year on August 12th, there are pilgrimages to the abandoned mine where Mass is celebrated

Victoria never had  good health and everyone in the village knew of the nervous cough she could not control. One of the men was bothered by it and taking his dirty handkerchief put it in her mouth. 

There were some witnesses that watched the events from the fields. When they arrived to the old mine, the guardian of the farm, Rafael Guerrero heard the rumor of voices and of footsteps. He hen heard the shots being fired, two or three at a time. They had left Victoria for the last one and one of the men approached her with  intention of raping her. But another militiaman confronted him and pushed him away. Hours later the men stopped at the village blacksmith shop and made comments on the incident:        

Victoria´s resting place in Cordoba

” What a lady. She really put up a fight !”, hey said.

Before her execution Victoria is knelt down in front of the firing squad.

-“Just say long live the Republic and and you’ll be free”! they shouted.

-” Let me think for a moment,”  Victoria said, her arms in the air and a closed fist.

The men looked at each other in amazement. Is  the school teacher joining their cause?

-” No, no! I say what I feel. Long live Christ the King. Long live my Mother!

The bullets go directly to the stomach. From Victoria’s fist falls a small image of the Blessed Mother.

Far away from the scene, in a neighboring  village, an elderly man takes the street car to go to work. He has just bought the daily press which he reads on his way. Suddenly, Mr. José  Díez cannot believe what he is reading . His daughter, his only daughter. His very own Victoria… is dead.

A tear drops through his chin and his heart cannot sustain the blow. He faints never to be healthy again. He dies weeks later and joins her dear daughter Victoria in heaven. ( A.Cantero)

POVEDA-IT