A second Cuban, Brother José Olallo Valdés, was beatified in Camagüey today, the penultimate step on the road to sainthood. Last year, Fray José López Piteira, became the first Cuban to receive that recognition along with 498 other religious martyred by the Republicans in Spain's Civil War (1936-1939). Blessed Fray José, who was born in Cuba to Spanish parents, returned with them to Spain at age 5 and entered a seminary there at age 13. Although he could have invoked his Cuban citizenship to save his life, he chose to share the fate of his brothers in Christ who were murdered at Paracuellos de Jarama, on November 30, 1936. He was 23 at the time of death. His last words "¡Viva Cristo Rey!" were prophetic ones and would be heard again thousands of times when the Red Terror came to our country in 1959.
Jaime Cardinal Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, refused to attend López Piteira's beatification in the Vatican on October 28, 2007 for fear of offending the successors of the Stalinists who murdered him. Ortega even argued publicly that Blessed Fray José was not a "real Cuban" ("cubano cubano") as if his mitre had also invested him with the power to denationalize his countrymen rather than to excommunicate those that betrayed the Catholic religion by persecuting the faithful (which Ortega has never dared to do). In recognition of Ortega's obedience to two masters, Raúl Castro attended today's ceremony and sat in the front row with the Vatican representative. He was presented with a Bible during the service and the Superior General of the Hospitaller Order of St. John, to which Olallo had belonged, thanked Castro for allowing the beatification to take place in a public setting and honoring them with his presence. So was Blessed Brother José Olallo's memory dishonored and his veneration among Cubans compromised by those who had sponsored and propelled his cause with the intention of derailing or overshadowing López Piteira's.
Fray Jose López Piteira was everything that Cuba's pusillanimous prelates are not, which, of course, is why they snubbed and insulted Cuba's first beato. Never before in the 2000-year history of the Church had the hierarchy of any country failed to enjoin the faithful to venerate a Blessed Martyr who was also a native son.
Brother José Olallo was a 19th-century holy man who dedicated his life to caring for the sick. His beatification poses no embarrassment to the Cuban Church. But he was not a martyr for the faith nor a saint for our times. That would be Fray José López Piteira, the first Cuban martyred by the Communists.
A Prayer to Blessed Fray José López Piteira
First Cuban Martyr, Fray José López Piteira, Beatified In Rome Today
Blessed Fray José López Piteira, Catholic Martyr and Cuban
Why Father Félix Varela Has Not Been Elevated to Sainthood and Never Will Be
Jaime Cardinal Ortega: The "Dorian Gray" of Cuba
Monsignor Carlos Manuel de Céspedes III