Blessed Anselm Polanco
Anselm Polanco (1881-1939) was martyred during the Spanish Civil War.
He was born April 16, 1881 in Buenavista de Valdavia, Palencia, Spain. He joined the Augustinian Order as a young man. He studied in Germany, then returned to Spain to teach at Valladolid and La Vid.
He was named Prior Provincial in 1932. He gave particular importance to visitation of all the Augustinians in his Province. This required difficult journies to China, the Philippines, the United States, Peru and Colombia, since many of the Spanish Augustinians were engaged in missionary activity. On his visits, he encouraged his brothers in their work of of evangelization and urged them to live a religious life faithful to the ideals of Saint Augustine.
In 1935 Anselm was named Bishop of the Diocese of Teruel and Albarracin. When Civil War broke out in Spain, in 1936, Anselm voluntarily remained in his Diocese, in spite of the strong anti-Catholic persecutions brought by the war. In deciding to remain with his people, he followed the same advice that Saint Augustine himself had given to Bishop Honoratus centuries earlier:
When all are threatened by the same danger, that is, Bishops, clergy and laity, those who need the others must not be abandoned by those of whom they have need. --Possidius, Life of Augustine 30, 11
In 1938, Anselm was captured by anti-Catholic forces and thrown into prison at Pont de Molins. While in prison, he organized an intense life of prayer along with the other prisoners. On February 7, 1939, just a few days before the end of Spain’s Civil War, he was taken outside the prison and was executed by a firing squad a short distance from the Spanish-French border. The Vicar General of his Diocese, Philip Ripoli, was killed at the same time.
Anselm’s mortal remains are at the Cathedral of Teruel.
The martyrdom of Anselm and Philip gave strong witness to their faith in Jesus Christ and their faithfulness to his Church.
Anselm was beatified October 1, 1995 by Pope John Paul II.
See also Augustinian Martyrs of Spain.