This Man Is About To Die… Why Is He Smiling?


That easy smile. The bright, joyful eyes. The sweet calmness of an easy summer day. This picture could easily be a vintage family photograph; a snapshot from a joyous party or a farmer, just come in from the his fields, enlivened by the good work his hands.

Instead, it is a picture of a man about to die. So who is this man and why is he smiling?

The man is Blessed Martín Martínez Pascual, a young Spanish priest of just 25 years, about to be executed only for being a Catholic Priest.

He was the son of a Spanish carpenter, baptized at one day, and grew up a very devout child. He became a priest and joined the worker priest movement in Spain before he began teaching in the seminary Colegio San José de Murcia, teaching Latin in the seminary in Murcia, Spain where he was considered an excellent instructor, beloved by his students.

When the terrors of the Spanish Civil War began, Blessed Martin took all of the consecrated hosts from the chapel, and went into hiding living in barns, caves, and haystacks. He evaded the militia for a few days but was caught and imprisoned where he spent his remaining time ministering to other prisoners, hearing confessions, and distributing the Eucharist he had rescued.

When the time of his execution came, he was asked if he would like to face away from the rifles during his execution, he said “no”. When asked if he wanted to say anything, he said gave them a blessing and said “I only give you my blessing that God does not take into account the madness that you commit.”

Then he shouted “VIVA CRISTO REY!”

Right before being shot, he smiled for the photographer, a Republican, called Hans Guttman, who took a couple of photographs of him. In his eyes, you can see a foretaste of eternity. You can see the joy of a faithful priest.

Blessed Martin was beatified on the 1st October 1995 by Pope Saint John Paul II. His feast day is the 18th August. Blessed Martin, Ora Pro Nobis! Viva Christo Rey!



    • Not a fair thing to say at all! Every sincere, baptized follower of Jusus understands the power of the Gospel, and the primacy of Christ in their lives. God bless ANY baptized Christian who makes such an ultimate sacrifice. They are ALL holy martyrs!

      • I imagine such a statement was made because of the constant, unrelenting drumbeat of anticatholicism. Vitriolic, hateful attacks and false claims against us Catholics is hurtful. Stating that ours isnt a Christian religion, that we sin all week and then go to confession, we don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, we worship statues and the Blessed Mother, etc. etc, etc. We arent attacking Protestants, we’re just trying to be good Christians while our nuns and priests are often being murdered. These are people who dedicate their entire lives to God and the service of others.
        We never hear words from our detractors regarding these frequent slaughters nor do we see news very often about Protestants being martyred for love of Christ in like manner.
        Anticatholics need to examine their hearts and behave more Christlike toward us.

        • Sometimes it doesn’t take long for a religious thread to degenerate into loveless sectarianism . . . let’s love each other–and forgive each other!

    • Please. Let’s not take that route. Let’s remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer, killed for resisting Hitler, or James Reeb, murdered campaigning for civil rights in Selma. Protestant clergy love their fellow humans and honor God as well.

    • I’m sorry, but this statement is not true at all. Consider The Rev. Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer for example. Persecuted and imprisoned for his beliefs and his writings by the Gestapo, he continued to write up until the day he was executed, April 9, 1945. As he was taken out to be executed, he was stripped and then asked if he was frightened because he shivering. He replied that he was not frightened, only cold. He then blessed his executioners and was hanged. Lutheran and other Protestant Pastors, along with Roman Catholic Priests, marched in the Civil Rights marches of the 1960s. It was a Lutheran Pastor who was beaten to death after the second attempt to cross the bridge on the Selma march. None of us have singular claim on martyrdom for faith. Their have been martyrs for the faith from all walks of life and from all denominations. This particular story moved me tremendously, and I pray for all those who face death for their beliefs. But we would be better served in viewing ourselves and our brothers and sisters who have died for their beliefs in the unity of Christianity rather than in the light of particular denominational polity. Blessings and the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all +.

      • Forgive me. I failed to include the most significant Protestant Pastor to die for his beliefs and for his leadership when I mentioned the Civil Rights movement. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King was also martyred in 1968. But again, I pray that we can all come together as Christians and recognize the sacrifices of all those who have suffered and died for their beliefs, in the name of Our Lord, and for the people of God regardless of denominational polity. Blessings once again +.

        • Rev. Brettell, while there is no doubt that Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, he was not murdered for his faith in Christ. He was murdered for advancing the cause of civil rights for African Americans. He was a Christian but he was not martyred for his faith in Jesus. I thank you for your overall notion that we would be better served by not invoking denominational polity. But Latin Rite Catholicism is not a denomination; it is pre-denominational. Denominations began with Martin Luther when he dishonored his Priestly vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience that he freely and willingly took at his ordination as an Augustinian Priest in Erfurt. The damage he and his actions have wrought are incalculable.

          • Mr. Christman–while this particularly thread is not the appropriate thread to discuss your points, I would be happy to enter into a discussion of them with you in private. You are welcome to contact me at Blessings my friend.

  1. If there is birth there is death…It is the only certainty in life..He lived his life to spread the gospel of christ…He had the courage to face the death squad with a smile

  2. Granted this was in the 20’s but this saint who was honored yesterday, was a martyr for Jesus Christ – typical of many I referred to who loved and served Our Lord and we’re murdered for it. As a Catholic it is terrible to hear the disgusting things people say about our faith. I grew up knowing and being educated by holy nuns and priests and God fearing parents. We were never allowed to talk against another religion.

  3. Evil human beings killing eachother for all sorts of reasons…some by Nazis…some by racists…others just out enjoying to killing.Sadly most of these victims are not martyrs dying for christ or any theological reason.They were murdered by their fellow humans.Christ is NOT god…you can’t be a martyr for a man who died on the cross!The torah forbids us to ascribe an image to the face of god.Turn from your idolatory….this is not MY opinion this is the decree of god…so don’t write back and criticize me …if you do you are contravening the first commandment.

  4. The man in the picture was thought to be a martyr priest. It is a picture of a soldier fighting with the military against the Franco group in Spain.