Blessed Anselm Polanco, bishop and martyr

About Blessed Anselm Polanco, bishop and martyr

Anselm was born in Buenavista de Valdavia (Palencia), Spain, on April 16, 1881. He
joined the Augustinians at Valladolid, professing vows in 1897. He was ordained priest
in 1904 and served as a teacher of theology and formator of young religious. In 1922 he
was named Prior at Valladolid and in 1932 was elected Provincial of the Province of the
Most Holy Name of Jesus of the Philippines. While Provincial he was named bishop of
Teruel, Spain, in 1935. The following year civil war broke out in the country and the
small city of Teruel became one of the sites of greatest struggle. Bishop Anselm was

determined not to abandon his people, but rather to remain with them to offer comfort
and guidance. On January 8, 1938, clothed in his Augustinian habit and accompanied
by a group of priests of his diocese, he was taken prisoner by the occupying forces. He
resisted firmly all attempts to have him retract his signature from a letter of the bishops
of Spain denouncing before the world, the persecution being inflicted upon the Church
in Spain. Together with his Vicar General, Fr. Felipe Ripoll, Bishop Anselm was
imprisoned for 13 months. Several days before the end of the war, on February 7, 1939,
he was shot at Pont de Molins (Gerona), near the French border. He was beatified by
John Paul II on October 1, 1995.
In his life as an Augustinian, Anselm was known as a man of kindly spirit, and a
great promoter of unity and harmony – characteristics that served him well also in
his brief ministry as bishop. On assuming responsibility for the diocese of Teruel
he said, “I have come to give my life for my sheep”, and on his episcopal coat of
arms placed the words, “I will sacrifice and offer myself for your souls.”

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