July 29th: Servant of God – Emmanuel Peypoch, SJ

July 29th: Servant of God - Emmanuel Peypoch, SJ

Born : December 2, 1870
Died : July 29, 1936

Fr Emmanuel Peypoch was born in Estany, near Barcelona, Spain. He entered the Society on July 30, 1888 at Veruela, completed his noviceship and went on to Saragossa for his philosophy which he completed in 1893 at Tortosa. He then taught Greek and history at Valencia for a year before going to the Philippines in 1896 where he taught at the Ateneo de Manila for four years and then returning to Spain for a year before going to St Louis University in Missouri for his theology in 1902. Fr Peypoch was ordained in St Louis in 1905 and did his tertianship at Florissant, Missouri after which he returned to Manila where he taught at Ateneo for the next sixteen years. He was, because of poor health, assigned to the retreat house in Manresa to give retreats and parish missions after he returned to Spain in 1926.

Fr Peypoch was giving a retreat to his fellow Jesuits in Manresa on July 18, 1936 when news broke that Spain was in civil war. He informed his retreatants of the news and asked for their prayers for the country. He had to end his retreat on the 21 st as priests were now being hunted and the revolutionaries were setting fire to churches and convents. He helped to arrange for several families in Manresa to give shelter to the Jesuits until they could return to their residences while he himself returned to his apartment where his sodality had an oratory and held its meeting.

On the morning of July 22, several of the Revolutionary Committee members appeared at Fr Peypoch’s flat and carried out a search. After questioning him for an hour, the priest was taken to the police headquarters where he was interrogated further. Fr Peypoch readily admitted he was a Jesuit and a priest, that he taught languages and his main work was preaching. He was released in the afternoon and his sodalists were relieved to see him. He mentioned that he was advised by the police to leave Manresa and go into hiding.

With the help of his sodalists they dismantled the oratory and hid the church furnishings before he sought shelter with the Vers family, whose son was a sodalist. Fr Peypoch couldn’t celebrate Mass as he did not wish to endanger the Vers family. But on the 25 th July, the feast of Spain’s patron saint, St James, he gathered the family and together they prayed for half an hour, recited the rosary and read from a spiritual book.

As Fr Peypoch did not wish to endanger his hosts further, he left to seek refuge in Artes, his mother’s native area. So on the morning of the 28 th, he put on his jacket, placed his crucifix in his pocket bade his friends farewell and left travelling mostly through fields. At nightfall, he rested at a vineyard and was on his way again before dawn. While approaching Puente de Cabrianes, he was unfortunately recognized by a woman who passed the information on to the communist revolutionaries.

Fr Peypoch was heading towards Les Tapies, the inn owned by a friend of his but by this time he was being followed as he left footprints in the soil. When he knocked at the back door of Les Tapies at 8.15 a.m. on the 29 th, his friend received him joyfully and offered him food. Fr Peypoch who was so weary from the walking and climbing asked to rest instead. As he was about to lie down, the revolutionaries surrounded the inn and knocked on the door and ordered the priest to go with them, forcing him to walk backwards with his hands in the air. They took him to a spot in the woods about five minutes away, and there they shot him in the head and body. It was 9 a.m., July 29.

The murderers then robbed the body of its money, returned to the inn and ordered a hearty breakfast with the martyred priest’s pesetas. When they had their fill, they demanded a mule from the innkeeper and used it to carry Fr Peypoch’s body and dumped it over the edge of the Calders road. The innkeeper received permission from the municipal authorities the following day to take Fr Peypoch’s body which he then laid to rest in a private vault in the Viladecavalls Cemetery.

Fr Peypoch’s martyrdom was being investigated by the Vich diocesan in November 1950 and the cause is presently under consideration