By Anne Kurian-Montabone

The day after the Beatification of Joan Roig i Diggle — November 7, 2020 –, Pope Francis asked the crowd at the Angelus to applaud “such a courageous youth! he said in St. Peter’s Square.

After the Marian prayer, the Holy Father hailed the memory of the lay martyr, “killed at only 19 during the Spanish Civil War.” He witnessed Jesus in his workplace and remained faithful to Him to the supreme gift of his life.”

“May his example arouse in all, especially in young people, the desire to live fully the Christian vocation,” said the Pontiff.

The Holy Father had recognized a year earlier the martyrdom of Joan Roig i Diggle (1917-1936), killed at 19 on the night of September 11-12, 1936, at Gramanet, during the Spanish Civil War.

Joan Roig i Diggle was born in Barcelona, Spain, on May 12, 1917. As a student, he worked as an office employee in a fabric store, then in a factory in Barcelona. He went to Mass daily.

On July 20, 1936, red militiamen burned the headquarters of the Federation of Young Christians of Catalonia, of which he was a member. The churches of Barcelona were closed. A persecution began during which the young man visited the wounded and prayed for the dead in hospitals.

Father Lluma, Joan’s Spiritual Director, entrusted a reserved Eucharist to him so that he could take Christ to the most deprived individuals. “I’m not afraid of anything, I take the Master with me,” said Joan to the Roses family that he visited on the day of his death, September 11, 1936. A few hours after, anti-clerical militiamen knocked on the door of his home. As he left, he said to his mother in English: “God is with me.”

The patrol took him next to the cemetery of Saint Coloma of Gramanet, where he spoke his last words: “May God forgive you as I forgive you.” He died from five bullets to his chest.

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