Do Not Forget Me, Maruja of My Soul

(Letter of Spanish Martyr, Bartolomé Blanco Marquez to his Beloved)

As part of the preparation for World Youth Day in Madrid, I have tried to learn more about the Spanish Martyrs. I read about one that particularly touched me – a young layman named Bartolomé Blanco Marquez. While in prison, Bartolomé wrote a touching letter to his fiancée. Here is my translation:

Maruja of my soul:

Your memory will accompany me to my grave. While my heart still beats, it will beat with love for you. God has willed that we sublimate these earthly affections, ennobling them by our love for Him. In these final days God is my light and my hope. Still, the memory of the person dearest to me goes with me right up to the moment of death.

I am helped by many priests. Like healing balm, they pour the treasures of Grace into my soul, strengthening me so that I can look death in the face. I tell you the truth when I say that it does not frighten me nor do I fear it.

My sentence in the courts of men will be my best defense before the Tribunal of God. They wanted to debase me, but they have ennobled me. They wanted to try me, but they have absolved me. They wanted to destroy me, but they have saved me.

Do you understand me? For sure you do! In killing me, they give me true life. In condemning me for defending the ideals of Faith, Fatherland and Family, they open for me the gates of heaven.

My body will be buried in the cemetery of Jaen. While there remain a few hours before this final repose, I only ask one thing: That in memory of the love we have (which every moment increases) attend to the main goal – the salvation of thy soul. In that way we will be united in heaven eternally, where nothing can separate us.

Until then, Maruja of my soul, do not forget that from heaven I will look for thee. Be a model Christian woman. You know that when all is said and done, worldly goods and pleasures mean nothing. What matters is the salvation of the soul.

My thoughts and gratitude to all the family – and to thee, my love, sublimated in the hour of death. Do not forget me, Maruja of my soul. Let my memory remind thee that there is a better life. Attaining it should be our greatest desire.

Be strong and rebuild thy life. You are young and good – and you will always have the help of God that I will implore for thee from heaven. Until that eternity where we will continue loving each other, world without end.

(Here ends the letter.)

The next day, October 2, 1936, Bartolomé was led before the firing squad. According to documents supporting his cause for beatification Bartolomé went to the site of his execution barefooted, "in order to be more conformed to Christ." He kissed his handcuffs, surprising the guards that cuffed him. He refused to be shot from behind. “Whoever dies for Christ should do so facing forward and standing straight. Long live Christ the King!” he shouted as he fell to the ground under a shower of bullets. He was beatified October 28, 2007. Blessed Bartolomé, pray for us.

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Here is the original Spanish

Maruja del alma:

Tu recuerdo me acompañará a la tumba y mientras haya un latido en mi corazón, éste palpitará en cariño hacia ti. Dios ha querido sublimar estos afectos terrenales, ennobleciéndolos cuando los amamos en Él. Por eso, aunque en mis últimos días Dios es mi lumbrera y mi anhelo, no impide que el recuerdo de la persona más querida me acompañe hasta la hora de la muerte. Estoy asistido por muchos sacerdotes que, cual bálsamo benéfico, van derramando los tesoros de la Gracia dentro de mi alma, fortificándola; miro la muerte de cara y en verdad te digo que ni me asusta ni la temo.

Mi sentencia en el tribunal de los hombres será mi mayor defensa ante el Tribunal de Dios; ellos, al querer denigrarme, me han ennoblecido; al querer sentenciarme, me han absuelto, y al intentar perderme, me han salvado. ¿Me entiendes? ¡Claro está! Puesto que al matarme me dan la verdadera vida y al condenarme por defender siempre los altos ideales de Religión, Patria y Familia, me abren de par en par las puertas de los cielos.

Mis restos serán inhumados en un nicho de este cementerio de Jaén; cuando me quedan pocas horas para el definitivo reposo, sólo quiero pedirte una cosa: que en recuerdo del amor que nos tuvimos, y que en este instante se acrecienta, ATIENDAS COMO OBJETIVO PRINCIPAL A LA SALVACIÓN DE TU ALMA, porque de esa manera conseguiremos reunirnos en el cielo para toda la eternidad, donde nada nos separará

¡Hasta entonces, pues, Maruja de mi alma! No olvides que desde el cielo te miro, y procura ser modelo de mujeres cristianas, pues al final de la partida, de nada sirven los bienes y goces terrenales, si no acertamos a salvar el alma.

Un pensamiento de reconocimiento para toda tu familia, y para ti todo mi amor sublimado en las horas de la muerte. No me olvides, Maruja mía, y que mi recuerdo te sirva siempre para tener presente que existe otra vida mejor, y que el conseguirla debe ser la máxima aspiración. Sé fuerte y rehace tu vida, eres joven y buena, y tendrás la ayuda de Dios que yo imploraré desde su Reino. Hasta la eternidad, pues, donde continuaremos amándonos por los siglos de los siglos.

Hasta aquí la epístola.

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