Jaime Hilario Barbal

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Jaime Hilario Barbal, F.S.C. (January 2, 1889, Enviny, Province of Lleida – January 18, 1937), was a Spanish member of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. After nearly 20 years of serving as a teacher in the schools of his religious institute, he was caught up in the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War, and executed by forces of the Second Spanish Republic. He is now honored as a saint and martyr of the Catholic Church.


Born Manuel Barbal Cosán in the Catalan town of Enviny, near the Pyrenees in northern Spain, he entered a minor seminary at age 12 for the Diocese of Urgel. He soon, however, developed hearing problems and was forced to withdraw from the school.

In 1917 Barbal was accepted by the Christian Brothers and began his novitiate in Irun, where he was given the religious name of Jaime Hilario (James Hilary). He spent the next 16 years in various teaching assignments and was regarded as an exceptional teacher. His hearing problems continued to persist and worsen and by the early 1930s he was forced to stop teaching completely and began work as a gardener at the House of Formation of St. Joseph in Tarragona.

At the outbreak of the civil war in July 1936, while traveling to visit his family at Enviny, Barbal was arrested for being a member of a religious Order. By December he was transferred to a prison ship at Tarragona. Although he could have claimed that he was a gardener, he insisted that he was a religious and in January 1937 was tried and convicted for being a member of the Christian Brothers.

When two volleys from a firing squad failed to harm Barbal, the firing squad commander shot him at close range. His last words were: “To die for Christ, my young friends, is to live.” He was the first of 97 Christian Brothers killed in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War.


The cause for Barbal's canonization was linked to that of the Martyrs of Turon, a group composed mostly of Brothers of the Christian Schools killed in a separate incident in 1934. He was beatified on April 29, 1990, by Pope John Paul II, and canonized by that same pope on November 21, 1999, with the other members of the group.

Barbal's feast day is celebrated by the Brothers on July 28.

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