By Larry Peterson
His name was Mariano Mullerat I Soldevila, and he was born on March 24, 1897, in Tarragona, Spain. He was the sixth of seven children and his parents, Ramon Mullerat and his wife, Bonaventura, were devout Catholics. Mariano, was baptized on March 30, one week after his birth.
Mariano showed great promise at the elementary level and in 1910 was sent to St. Peter the Apostle School in the town of Reus, not far from his home. In 1914 he entered the University of Barcelona and began the study of medicine. He was awarded his medical degree in 1921.
In 1922 the young doctor married a girl he had met in school, Dolors Sans I Bove. They were married in the town of Arbeca and this is where they settled. Dr. Mullerat opened his practice here and began traveling to nearby towns giving medical care to the poor for free. Those that were homebound and seriously ill he would encourage to receive the sacraments as often as possible. He would also make sure that these folks had the necessities such as food and basic medicines.
During the ensuing years, Mariano and Dolors had five daughters with their first child having died shortly after birth in January 1923. It was also in 1923 that Mariano founded the newspaper, L’Ecut, which was printed in the Catalan language. His Catholic faith was strong and uncompromising, and he used the publication to defend the faith against the surge in secularism sweeping across Spain. Besides commentary, the paper also published poetry, promoted local cultural events, and articles of social interest. The paper ceased to be published in 1926.
In 1924 Dr. Mullerat was elected mayor of Arbeca and stayed in office until 1930. While he was mayor, a transformation took place in Arbeca. Blasphemy and profanity were frowned upon and could bring a fine, the Sacred Heart of Jesus was given a place of honor at city hall, and the clergy and the church were defended by the mayor’s administration at all times.
During this time he never ceased giving care and assistance and whatever other help he could to the poor and marginalized. His spirit of faith provided by the Holy Spirit was always evident in the doctor’s actions, words, and behavior and he set a fine example for all who came in contact with him.
The Second Spanish Republic came into power in 1931 and revolution spread across Spain. In 1934 the violence reached Arturia, a province near Tarragona. Dr. Mullerat knew in his heart that the violence would soon be at the doorstep of Arbeca. Within two years churches and other religious places were being burned and destroyed in Barcelona. By July of 1936, priests, religious, and lay faithful were being killed in Tarragona and Lieda. The government soldiers arrived in Arbeca in early August.
There were those close to Dr. Mullerat who suggested he try to leave Spain. He refused. He was even offered a way to escape to Zaragoza where he would be safe but he rejected the idea. He believed that he was meant ot carry on his medical mission for the needy. Filled with a powerful faith and staring down the face of danger, he said he was needed where he was.
On Thursday morning, August 13, 1936, militiamen, came to Dr. Mullerat’s home. He was dragged away and tossed like a pile of old rags into the back of a truck. There were five other “criminal” Catholics who had already been thrown in. They began the three-mile drive to the last place on earth they would ever go.
As the truck bounced over the rough road a woman suddenly ran out and had them stop. She told the driver that her son was ill and aked if the doctor could help him. They stopped and brought the child to dr. Mullerat. He examined the child and prescribed some medication. He assured the woman her boy would be okay. Then, noticing a wound on one of the militiamen, asked if he could look at it. The soldier showed him a deep cut in his leg and the doctor bandaged it and told him how to treat it. His medical career ended by him helping one of his executioners. How poignant is that.
At Blessed Mariano’s beatification ceremony on March 23, 2019, Cardinal Angelo Becciu said, “The top of holiness is reached through the path of love, there is no other way. And Mariano has ascended this summit and has reached the destiny of the righteous and the elect, of whom the book of Wisdom speaks. Live with the Lord because he remained faithful to him in love.”
A witness told Mariano’s wife that his last words were, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Lastly, and this might take your breath away, the beatification ceremony was attended by his three daughters and two grandchildren. Imagine that.
Blessed Mariano Mullerat I Soldevila, pray for us
Copyright©Larry Peterson 2019