The Beatification of Enrique Angelelli and his Companions: the Riojani Martyrs

Diego Fares SJ

 Diego Fares SJ / Church Life / Published Date:2 July 2019/Last Updated Date:8 November 2021

“If I hide or leave La Rioja, they will continue to kill my sheep,” said Bishop Angelelli to Bishop Miguel Esteban Hesayne,[1] who together with other friends, given the threats to which he was subject, recommended that he leave his diocese, at least for some time. He did not leave. In that last period he often drew a spiral that was tightening around the center, to indicate that he knew he was being targeted: the military dictatorship, which had assumed power on March 24, 1976, wanted a “red skullcap,” the head of a bishop. They said so openly.

In the poem titled To the Reactionary, Angelelli says: “Friend! / Why do you hurt your brother and defame him… / Why do you cast dirt on him, debase and persecute him? / Watch out! You are not past, you are history, / you are the project and message that lasts, / people on the way and not desert / water that sings and does not stagnate.”[2]

The death of Blessed Enrique Angelelli and his fellow Riojani martyrs is recent and has resonances in the lives of Argentines today. To write about it is to touch an open wound, that of the desaparecidos, the disappeared. Right there, in that wound of which they have been part, the martyrs are present and buried. Their death serves as a bridge. Right there, where the split between “worthy of living” and “unworthy of living” traced by the “doctrine of national security” assaulted the martyrs and slaughtered them, right there, the blood of the martyrs has been, is and can be the silent cement that brings together the parts and heals the wounds. Only real martyrdom is capable of overcoming ideological divisions. The important thing now is not to poison the crown of martyrdom with ideology.

This article is reserved for paid subscribers. Please subscribe to continue reading this article