Venancio Martínez

At 33 years of age and on the battlefield itself, the missionary Augustinian Recollect Venancio Martínez de Jesús María died, a man of peace and peacemaker, a passionate devotee of Virgin Mary. In 1943, a year before his death, he offered himself as a victim of love to Merciful Love.

Venancio Martínez was born in Mélida, Navarra on March 31, 1911. He issued his religious profession on September 6, 1927, in the novitiate of Monteagudo, Navarra. Completed ecclesiastical career, he was ordained a priest at the Benedictine Abbey of Buckfast, England, on July 22, 1934.

Venancio, upon arriving to Lodosa, Navarra, met Brother Mariano Alegría, religious superior of the Kweiteh/Shangqiu mission, Henan, China, who was on vacation. The young Venancio opened his heart to him and explained his desire to be a missionary in China. Alegría was in charge of writing to the prior provincial and taking all the steps to, at his return to China, be able to take Venancio with him.

On October 30, 1935, with the help of Mariano Alegría, Fray Venancio arrived at the mission. After two weeks he is assigned to the Chutsi missionary post, where he would study the Chinese language with Father Mariano Gazpio.

Before completing a year in China, on September 15, 1936, he was appointed vice-rector and teacher of the Seminary, where he taught music, gymnastics, and Latin; this last matter, with good dose of patience, strong will, and unusual enthusiasm. With a sweet character, always with a smile on his lips, Venancio had the gift of captivating the children who loved him like a father. He left in the seminary an indelible mark on the seminarians.

Father Venancio was a happy and very optimistic person, he enjoyed being with his brothers and in the meetings with the other missionaries, for whom he was a good companion and brother: affectionate, affable, generous, helpful, and always ready to please them.

In July 1937 he fell ill and had to go to Shanghai, where he underwent surgery for appendicitis. In that month the Sino-Japanese War broke out, and he was forced to remain there until December 1938. Upon his return to the mission, he was assigned to Yücheng. Monsignor Francisco Javier Ochoa entrusted Father Venancio with the difficult mission of raising a new central house for the mission. For Venancio, the difficulties did not exist, he was very successful. With his indefatigable and enthusiastic character, he did not spare efforts, and with his perseverance and determination, he began to write letters, asking for alms from countless known and unknown people, even having the audacity to write to the American billionaire Ford. Thus, in just over a year, he successfully completed this difficult task.

The city of Yücheng was never, after its capture, permanently occupied by the Japanese, but there was alternation in its occupation by Chinese or Japanese forces in three or four times. In this difficult situation, the intrepid Father Venancio became the “flagbearer” and savior of Yücheng, acting twice, at the request of everyone, authorities and people, as a man of peace, avoiding bloodshed by both parts.

In his apostolic zeal, Father Venancio exceeded himself. He was a tireless visitor of the Christendoms so he spent a few days in his residence. Being with Christians was his joy.

Father Venancio was a titan of charity. Soft-hearted and merciful, he loved with predilection for the poor, who soon became fond of him and his house. He welcomed into his home for a month to an opiate addict in a pitiful state and accompanied him until he was detoxified and recovered from his broken health.

The declaration of war between Japan and the United States on December 8, 1941, came to mark a new era. Absolute lack of communication with the world came, with situations of terrible scarcity in the mission, to the point of being able to find dying people in every step. Father Venancio’s zeal ensured that quite a few people obtained the invaluable benefit of being baptized in “articulo mortis”. Father Venancio had no more ideal than Christ and the souls, his ideal was to win for Christ all the souls of his mission.

The source of his apostolic life was his deep spiritual life. Venancio was a man of God, is in love with Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. Man of deep and intense prayer, took the holy gospels in his hands every day and made the Blessed Jesus the center of his life. His love for Jesus was joined by a deep love for the Virgin. «The Virgin, the Virgin has done everything, and the Virgin will do everything that she still needs to do,” said Venancio.

In the summer of 1943, burned with seraphic love like our father Saint Augustine, fearless and zealous like Saint Francis Xavier, childish, mystical, spousal and sacrificial like a saint Teresa of the Child Jesus and, following his example, offered himself as a victim of love to Merciful Love.

He wanted to imitate, follow and join Jesus in his passion, in his path of love and sacrifice. The year of his offering the Lord called him to complete his mission. After fixing his teeth he returned to the headquarters of the mission and he began to feel ill, with terrible headaches and with fever. He did not respond to the treatment they gave him, but he felt worse every day, so called his confessor and, after confessing, asked for Viaticum and Anointing of the Sick.

He spent the entire night invoking the names of Jesus and Mary and doing very fervent acts of faith, hope and charity. The next three days he continued, despite the medicines, with a fever that burned him. His fervor was also increasing; For him there was nothing but Jesus and Maria.

Finally, at 10:10 PM at night on July 24, 1944, devoured by fever, but peacefully, without movements or convulsions, he gave his soul to God the zealous and holy Augustinian Recollect Missionary, Fr. Venancio Martínez de Jesús María.

In the middle of his life, at the age of 33, and on the battlefield itself, but full, without a doubt, of merits and virtues, he died like a grain of wheat, falling his body on the ground of his beloved mission and leaving his soul this world to continue from heaven blessing his brothers, his recollects, and his beloved Chinese.