Blessed Serviliano

Beato Serviliano
Serviliano Riaño Herrero was born in Prioro, in the province and diocese of León, on April 22nd, 1916. In 1927, he entered the lesser seminary of the Oblates of Urnieta (Guipúzcoa), where he completed his studies in 1932, year in which he went on to serve his novitiate at Las Arenas (Vizcaya), where his first oblation was celebrated on August 15th, 1933. He then transferred to Pozuelo de Alarcón to join the scholasticate community and continue his studies to prepare for priesthood. Serviliano continued to be the humble, simple, always gentle and charitable, extroverted and jovial young man who prepared himself to carry out his apostolic zeal in any foreign mission. On July 22nd, 1936, he was imprisoned with all his community brothers, at Pozuelo. As had been feared, the convent was violently converted into a prison. Serviliano was taken away from his fellow-prisoners to the Office of General Safety, located in Plaza del Sol, in the center of Madrid. Freed the following day, he began life underground with some of his companions until, on October 15th, during a roundup, he was again detained and imprisoned. On September 7th, 1936, he heard his name called among those “to be freed.” Aware of what this meant and ready to accept the sacrifice of the bloody oblation to which God was calling him, he called upon Father Mariano Martín O.M.I. through the small opening of the cell door, asking him for absolution, which he received. With a resolved heart, he climbed onto the truck that would take him to Soto de Aldovea, near Paracuellos. There he was martyred. He was 21. His sister, Sabina, a nun of the Holy Family of Bordeaux, tells of the deeply religious environment that was lived within their family and the entire village of Prioro, a Christian community where many religious vocations flourished: “When he left for the seminary, I had already entered the convent. We wrote to each other frequently. He would usually remind me that generosity and sacrifice are precious and essential stones for Christians and even more for the men and women of God. In his letters, he always showed great enthusiasm for his vocation, especially his missionary vocation. When he wrote to me for my profession of religion, he said he was proud to have a sister who was a nun” - two, actually, as she was later followed by Consuelo – “and said that my profession was the reflection of that great and future day that he awaited for himself: ‘Yes, you know, that morning I will cry tears of joy and hope that your profession is a reflection of my soul's dream.’ He loved to write poems and in them, too, he would let you catch a glimpse of the enthusiasm for his vocation as a priest and missionary. (During the religious persecution) I would say to sister Clotilde: ‘So many religious martyrs from one congregation and another, and none of us will be worthy of martyrdom?' These words came from the heart. When I received the news that Serviliano had been executed by a firing squad, sister Clotilde replied: ‘Are you happy now?' And I responded: ‘I feel great pain, because I loved my brother deeply; but on the other hand I also feel great joy that I have a brother who is a martyr.’ From then on, I always considered him a martyr. Much time passed without news from him. We lived in anguish not knowing what was happening to him. And the anguish grew when we got word of the death of the others from the village (two Augustinians from El Escorial, also martyred). Later they told us that they had already identified Serviliano thanks to a note he carried in his jacket. Then my father went to Madrid. When he returned, with my mother he shared only some things, while instead he told me what he was told on how he had died: they tied his arms, and his hands behind his back; they shot him and he fell in the ditch with the others. My father cried as he described this to me. At the same time, he showed his great conviction that his son was a martyr.”