On this day: St. Pedro Poveda

by Gerelyn Hollingsworth

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On this day, 75 years ago, at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, Father Pedro Poveda Castroverde, founder of the Teresian Association, was shot to death, a martyr of faith. He was 61 years old.

Pedro Poveda was ordained in 1897 at Guadix, in the province of Granada. In the early years of his priesthood, he ministered to the Roma people who lived in the caves of Guadix. His work with the poor cave dwellers was so successful that "it outraged some of the more traditional Catholic lay people and clergy, who conspired to have him dismissed (glossed over as 'being misunderstood' in the Osservatore Romano biography published on the occasion of his beatification.)"

-- Butler's Lives of the Saints: Supplement of New Saints and Blesseds, by Paul Burns, Liturgical Press, 2005, page 191.

Father Poveda left Guadix and spent the rest of his life working to improve education in Spain. "Education (or the lack of it) was a burning issue in Spain at the time. At the end of the nineteenth century 68 per cent of men and 79 per cent of women were illiterate--a striking illustration of failure by both providers, State and Church." Page 192.

Click here for "Pedro Poveda's Life," which developed "around five periods of time and five geographical points: Linares, Guadix, Covadonga, Jaén and Madrid."

Notice, under "Personality," linked at the left of the page, the descriptions of Pedro Poveda by a fellow canon at Covadonga and by his collaborators and students.

The Teresian Association is celebrating its centennial this year. "The early members of the Teresian Association were women involved in all levels of education, from elementary to the provision of higher education for women--this a daring innovation in Catholic circles at a time when 'piety, duty, and domesticity remained the female cardinal virtues.'"

For the biography of St. Pedro Poveda at the Teresian Association's web site, click here.

"At dawn, on July 28th, 1936 a group of paramilitaries came to search his house. 'We have orders from high places they said'. The priest had not wanted to leave Madrid. He chose to be close to his own, to the people he had gathered around a ‘good idea’ as he would call the educational movement he initiated in 1911. When his captors arrived, he identified himself with determination: 'I am a priest of Christ.'"

Click here for a YouTube of Pedro Poveda Casstroverde. Notice the picture of him with Roma children at :52.

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