Thus, the stage was set for the future martyrdom of Fr. Emilio Moscoso and this is what the Postulator for the Cause wrote in his small booklet about this era:
“To understand the circumstances of his martyrdom: we must briefly recall the national history of that precise moment. The country was convulsed by two irreconcilable fronts facing each other in arms. Riobamba,[is now known as] the Eucharistic City, precisely because of the desecration and sacrilege of the Eucharist in the chapel which had been perpetrated by the same hands [as those who killed Fr Moscoso while] on his knees, looking at the murder weapon, with the prayer on his lips and the rosary in his hands.
On June 5, 1895, Eloy Alfaro, supreme commander and general commander of the Army declared and published, de facto, a resolution to disregard the Constitution of 1883. The Constitutionalists, in defense of the Constitution and the Montoneros [revolutionaries of that time who fought for Radical Liberalism aka Alfaristas] clashed in the province of Chimborazo. The then small city of Riobamba had become a veritable powder keg, because almost twice as many regular soldiers had been stationed with additional troops in several barracks, liberals against conservatives, not only for political but religious reasons, because the plan to end theocracy means religious persecution. The atmosphere in which they lived was tense and confrontational: they expelled the Salesians from Quito and Riobamba, the Capuchins, Bishop Schumacher, from Portoviejo …
In the Archbishop's palace in Quito, Bishop Gonzalez Calixto was harassed by drunken soldiers, and a part of the archives and library was burned, the Jesuits of the East [the Amazon region] were ordered to leave their mission site.” [Below: La Dolorosa above the altar in the Chapel of Expiation.]
Thus, the battle lines were drawn in Riobamba and in 1897, the situation was such that inevitably, there was to be a confrontation between these two factions… Interestingly enough, Eloy Alfaro had put his nephew, Gen. Flavio Evaristo Alfaro Santana, an Ecuadorean liberal revolutionary in charge of the Alfarista Battalion in Riobamba.
Previous to the following events, the Alfaristas under the leadership of Flavio Alfaro and his underlings, Captain Santo Manzanilla, and Commander Juan Franco, had taken over the seminary dormitories and were using them as barracks. The Constitutionalists were camped on the outskirts of town awaiting a good moment to attack the Alfaristas. The actual events that occurred happened within the seminary and chapel. The Alfaristas believed that the Jesuits had instigated the battle by encouraging the Constitutionalists to enter the walls of the seminary. However, this was not true. There was a miscommunication with the Constitutionalists as they believed all of the Jesuits were still imprisoned and were not told that of their release… The Alfaristas acted with hatred and vengeance toward the Jesuits believing them to be the instigators …thus the massacre of soldiers and lay people occurred on the property of St Philip Neri School in Riobamba along with the terrible profanation and desecration of the Holy Eucharist and martyrdom of the meek and humble Fr. Emilio Moscoso…
On Sunday, May 2, 1897
At nine o'clock in the morning of May 2nd, the Redemptorist priest, Fr. Alfonso, was imprisoned and at four-thirty in the afternoon the Alfarista’s Commander Juan J. Franco and Captain Santos, appeared at the Jesuits with the order of immediate arrest of all the Jesuits. The Rector, Fr. Moscoso, was away from the school at that time. Upon arrival, before entering the school, he was informed of what had happened, and was advised not to enter, but in a heroic gesture of the solidarity, he desired the same fate as his brothers. He entered and was arrested there with the whole group transferred to the Pichincha barracks through the side door that faced the barracks (the old seminary) because Alfaro’s soldiers feared a riot. Thus, the human quality of this man with a magnanimous heart expressed solidarity with his brothers to the point of heroism. Well he knew what could be awaiting them: abuse, exile and even death; He could have just as well claimed that, in liberty, he could have more easily worked to free his fellow Jesuits. However, he renounced this idea with supernatural manliness, nobility and dignity, with the serenity of the great heroic actions.
At night, it seemed that, with a prearranged order, these Jesuits were to be exiled, outside the Republic at dawn, since they would not renounce their Faith and their mission and immediately, they were transferred to the cavalry horse stables, escorted by 50 soldiers. There they spent the night in the most uncomfortable situations.
In the midst of so much tension and discomfort, the companions of the prison noticed that the attitude of Fr. Moscoso was more than serene and peaceful. There was a certain happiness that was evident despite the harsh conditions of that imprisonment, which strongly contrasted with his usual way of acting – his reserved and shy manner was altered by one of joyful anticipation of an upcoming grace-filled event. Was this a personal manifestation of his intimate spiritual world in which he was transported in the hours before his imminent martyrdom was revealed to his confreres?
[Bullet-ridden painting of the Vision of the Sacred Heart
to St. Margaret Mary in Chapel of Expiation ]
The Postulator of the Cause, Fr. Benetiz SJ related the state of the soul of Fr. Emilio on the night of May 2nd, 1897, just a day before his approaching martyrdom: “That night, just before his death, one of his fellow priests and good friends noticed that he was very joyful because he knew that he was going to die. One of his Jesuits friends testified that at that moment when they were imprisoned, he was given the grace of martyrdom. He seemed to be in direct Divine Communication with God – i.e. in ecstasy.” He was very joyful because he knew he was going to die a martyr’s death!
Consequently, it is believed that Fr Moscoso received a special grace – i.e. the knowledge that he was to be allowed to die becoming a martyr in defense of the Catholic Faith.– In the study of the Canonical evidence put forth for Fr. Emilio Moscoso’s canonization, it was stated that Fr Moscoso was gifted with a special grace which was the grace of martyrdom-i.e. he saw his own death- he knew he was going to be killed. He was actually experiencing the joy of that grace.
That same night in Riobamba, many other religious from other religious houses were imprisoned such as the Bishop who was imprisoned in the palace, the Dean Proano, that was imprisoned in the "Seventy" barracks and Fr. Alfonso, the Redemptorist, who had been imprisoned in the "Boliche" and the Jesuits that were imprisoned in the "Pichincha".
In the midst of this state of affairs, someone went and gave notice to the Constitutionalist soldiers who were fighting against the Alfaristas to try to protect the religious and take away the power from the Liberals. They were stationed outside the city. This notification was the eventual cause of the fighting on the future date of May 4th.
Monday, May 3rd, 1897
In the morning, the whole population appeared in the streets in an uproar demanding the freedom of the religious and the multitude exerted so much pressure on the soldiers that they were able to obtain the release of many of the religious for the afternoon; but not all; because four remained imprisoned, Fathers Pástor, Santocildes, Bonz and Coronado.
The rest obtained eighteen hours of freedom. Once at home in the school, Fr. Moscoso spent his last hours of his life attempting to negotiate the freedom for his fellow Jesuits still imprisoned, but that request was refused.
of the Eucharist in the Chapel]
In the book, “The Truth About May 4th, 1897” a great effort was put forth to quote the original witnesses of the deeds that took place. Unfortunately, this book is only in Spanish at this moment, but we have translated some of its pages in order to comprehend the truly diabolically gruesome and evil events that took place in the early morning hours of May 4th from 4 AM to 9 AM. After reading such events, one can understand the grief and sorrow the residents of Riobamba felt that caused some members of the community to set up perpetual reparation and even found orders to offer perpetual adoration and reparation to make up for these dastardly deeds that could only merit eternal damnation!
If it wasn’t for the martyrdom of Fr. Emilio Moscoso, this writer would have cast aside this book in horror, but one cannot help but feel that it is paying tribute to the priest who offered his life in reparation for these despicable acts and the other 16 Jesuit victims who suffered at the hands of the enemies of the Church! With this in mind, one can read about these appalling acts of hatred toward God, His Son, His Church and the Holy Eucharist and beg God’s forgiveness for these awful acts against His Majestic Presence in the Holy Eucharist! With these words, this writer does not wish to desensitize the reader about such events, but, instead, to incite in them a greater love and fervor of the Most Holy and Blessed Sacrament and increase in the reader a desire to make numerous acts of reparation and adoration to Our Lord Jesus Christ!
[Chapel of Expiation]
It has been recorded that there were 18 deaths and 35 wounded causalities as a result of the atrocious acts of this Revolution. Only one though is considered a martyr’s death, Fr. Emilio Moscoso, as the others were either trying to hide in and around the church or asking for mercy in the sparing of their lives…
Very early in the morning, around midnight the guerrillas (aka Constitutionalists), believing that the Jesuits were still imprisoned, unaware that the Jesuits had been released the day before, and thinking that they would achieve an easy surrender, arrived in Riobamba and prepared to overtake the Alfaristas. A little after 5 am, they broke through the garden walls of the seminary and entered the building adjoining the chapel intending to attack the headquarters from the front. However, an unequal battle ensued as the Alfarista revolutionaries knew exactly where the Constitutionalist guerrillas were hiding.
An Excerpt from the section in the book titled: “The Sacrilege in the Church” pgs. 76- 77 tells of the desecration of the Church at 7 am.:
“Having achieved the first triumph [in the battle], with the breaking down of the church doors, the [Alfarista] soldiers penetrated into it, shooting everywhere: at the pulpit, the confessionals, the main altar, the statues, the small choir loft, at the ceiling, at any suspect hiding place where there was the possibility of someone hiding, at the floor to signal their effortless victory; Cifuentes was seen, trying to hide behind the image of the Sacred Heart, and they riddled him with bullets and an ax blow.”
“The material authors of the following events say they were witness to: a large number of troops, without specifying more, and added, the church was full of smoke, caused by the repeated discharges made by the Alfaristas” [members of Alfaro’s militia].
“Flavio Alfaro, is one of those who entered the church, and when he entered, he gave the order to kill all the Jesuits with this expression "Kill all the friars" - that impressed me and I witnessed this with others.” Segundo Martinez.- a soldier
“Full of fury, not content with the material destruction, emboldened with the order received, they [the soldiers] screamed three blasphemies against Jesus Christ into the altar wine. They commenced with the sacrilegious laughter that is fostered by ignorance and madness due to their triumph. There is an historical source that attributes it [these bad actions], not only to these factors, but also to the excess of alcohol imbibed by the soldiers. They were directed to the High Altar led by a Central American [Costa Rican] commander who was always boasting of impiety. This commander, according to some soldiers, ordered them to shoot the door of the Tabernacle, he took out two chalices that were there, making a cruel derision of the sacrament. The triumph of liberty was celebrated in the midst of a hellish racket and frantic cheers to General Alfaro within this same house of prayer; they begin to smash the fragile door of the Tabernacle with rifle butts and soon they succeed; they then took out the ciborium, spread the consecrated wafers on the ground, trampled them, ate and drank them in all the wine barrels that the priests had for the Masses; They put the consecrated hosts in that wine and said they were eating ‘drunken soup’. They trampled the consecrated hosts and mocked the Mass and parodied it in a ridiculous way. They went up to the pulpit to mock preaching, and in the end, they have done things that have filled the entire city with dismay.”
It was even recorded that some of these soldiers donned the vestments of the priest and mocked the distribution of the Holy Eucharist by placing the consecrated hosts in the mouths of the unfortunate victims that they had killed saying: “This is what the priest does!”
So it was that under these conditions of a furiously fiendish rage that this diabolically instigated attack was made on this seminary, its contents – focusing most intently on the Most Holy Eucharistic Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ, next its inhabitants i.e. the priests most esp. Fr. Moscoso, and the surrounding area of the city. These mercenaries of Eloy Alfaro desecrated the chapel of the school and the Eucharist with extreme cruelty and viciousness.
After all the of the fightingand the sacrilegious acts against the Holy Eucharist and Religion, Alfaristas entered the school. At that moment, they heard the second in command, Martinez, affirming the order given by the Commander, Flavio Alfaro: "Kill all the friars!" They entered screaming and firing their guns. Some Jesuits were found together in the chapel on the third floor and they were imprisoned, beaten, some bleeding, wounded, and tied with ropes like criminals. These revolutionaries took them out into the street in the midst of armed guards.
These same men then proceeded into the living quarters of the priests, shouting blasphemies to God and “Death to Christ!”, “Kill the Friars!” Are these not familiar cries? Are these not the same types of cruel exclamations of the evil murderers of Garcia Moreno shouted as they mercilessly mutilated and assassinated him with guns and machetes? Their cruel words have echoed through the years: “Die Tyrant! “Die Jesuit!”
At about 7:30, the evil Alfarista, Captain Santos Manzanilla, in particular, wanted to find the room of the rector of the school. The soldiers crossed the kitchen garden from the Church and the very first room they entered was that of the rector, Fr. Emilio Moscoso. They found him calmly kneeling on his prie-dieu in front of his crucifix, praying his rosary certainly awaiting and meditating on his upcoming martyrdom.
He was first shot at point blank range in the head and if that was not enough, they shot him again in his chest and liver. Not satisfied with having killed him, they then took it upon themselves to place the rifle that had just killed him with and placed it into his hands and replaced his cassock and skullcap with a military uniform and a magazine with bullets. The one captain then took him and tied him to a horse with a horse halter and began to drag him in the street. Such an outcry was made by not only the residents of the city, but of the soldiers, themselves, that this grotesque parade was stopped.
Testimonials were given by the locals that these evil men like crazed maniacs donned the garb of the priests- even that of Fr. Moscoso and rode around on bareback – some even with blood still dripping from their hands -parading thru the city mocking the priesthood, the Catholic faith and even insulting the good moral consciences of the residents of Riobamba. (Unfortunately, it bears mentioning that in the book “The Truth about May 4th, 1897” it is written that the perpetrators of such terrible acts of profanation and desecration did not meet with happy endings just as was prophesized in the apparition. There was factual evidence from hospitals and newspapers and numerous witnesses that had recorded how these men met their fates via grisly accidents, suicides, insanity, murder, horrible illnesses- each death more horrible than the next. One would shudder just to read the gruesome details of such demises!)
[Above :painting depicted the descration of the body of Fr. Emilio Moscoso]
At 9:30 am The Jesuit prisoners wre informed of the death of their Rector.
Fr. Moscoso was taken to the local hospital. It is recorded that his face bore “the beatific expression of a that of a righteous man, whom Death, out of respect and veneration, had dispensed with the ravages of any dismal facial contortions.”
When news of his martyrdom spread, a spontaneous and immediate affection for Fr. Emilio Moscoso was seen throughout the city. It is said that the people of Riobamba thronged to the hospital where his body was being kept and began to make relics of his clothes, and “handkerchiefs were touched to his clotted blood in order to preserve as a relic the blood of one of the martyrs of Liberalism.” For in their heart of hearts they knew and believed that Fr. Emilio Moscoso not only worked for the Catholic Faith, but lived it… his life’s blood had been spent due to the hatred for the Catholic Faith…
For Fr. Moscoso, his soul had been raised in a profoundly Catholic country that thrived not because life was easy, but for the very fact that being a Catholic, in those times, was difficult- these Catholic souls in Ecuador had to fight for their rights to be Catholic even to the point of being persecuted! Thanks be to God that he had been raised in a profoundly Catholic family and educated at the time when Gabriel Garcia Moreno was President. He was able to witness the Consecration of Ecuador to the Sacred Heart and even Garcia Moreno’s martyrdom by Masonic assassins. Surely, this priest’s soul had been affected by all these events. One could even wonder if these events might have given Fr. Moscoso the impetus to emulate him.
[Fr. Moscoso's book with bullet holes in it]
We would be remiss if we did not delve a bit deeper into Garcia Moreno’s influence on Fr. Moscoso’s life for even Our Lady of Good Success mentioned Moreno in Her prophecies about the fate of Ecuador for she appeared to Mother Mariana on January 16, 1599, saying these words,
“In the 19th century, a truly Christian president will come; a man of character whom God Our Lord will give the palm of martyrdom on the square adjoining this Convent of mine. He will consecrate the Republic of Ecuador to the Sacred Heart of my Most Holy Son and this consecration will sustain the Catholic Religion in the years that will follow, which will be ill-fated ones for the Church.
These years, during which the accursed sect of Masonry will take control of the civil government, will see a cruel persecution of all religious communities, and will also strike out violently against this one of mine.”
The Consecration of Ecuador to the Sacred Heart was truly the climax of Garcia Moreno’s career as President of Ecuador. Even Heaven seemed to agree as shortly after, the Freemasons from around the globe called for his assassination! Thus, God called Garcia Moreno to his eternal reward after a life well spent in promoting and defending the Catholic Faith.
However, this was only one example of his work. This man exhibited such a brilliant and even genius mind that it would take many pages to list all he accomplished.
When Garcia Moreno was installed as President of Ecuador, on January 16, 1861, which also happens to be the anniversary of the Conceptionist sister, Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres’ death, he drew up and established a new Catholic Constitution to end the corruption that had swept the country. This new Constitution based on Christian principles was what Garcia Moreno believed was the only way to "moralize the country by the energetic repression of crime by the solid education of the young, to protect religion and bring about the reforms which neither the Government nor the laws alone can obtain."
Through his foresight and knowledge, the society and culture of Ecuador improved and flourished under this new Constitution and this truly Catholic President. His personal example of charity towards all classes and races was exemplary. He prayed the Rosary with his workers. He ate with the sick to make certain they had proper nourishment in the hospitals he had founded. He sought out bandits in the mountains, as the Good Shepard looking for his lost sheep, in order to give them a chance at repentance and a start to a good Christian life. He spent all of his Presidential salary in acts of good works for the people of Ecuador and the Church. Garcia Moreno believed that the conversion and success of Ecuador as a nation lay in the sound education of youth. As a result, good Catholic elementary schools were founded for not just the upper classes but for the indigenous people and women of all classes. Schools for learning trades were put into place. Thousands of children were educated in these programs. To undertake this task, Moreno appealed to France for religious to come to Ecuador to teach. Not only the Jesuits but the Sisters of Charity, the Christian Brothers and the Nuns of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary answered his call.
So, Garcia Moreno was truly the Catholic president of Ecuador that not only established the Catholic Faith in Ecuador as the National Religion of that Country but set to work educating the youth in the Faith via Catholic schools.
Therefore, it was no coincidence that this brutal occurrence of the profanation of the Eucharist and the martyrdom of Fr. Moscoso took place in the seminarian school of St Philip Neri. The other event that correlated with Fr. Moscoso’s martyrdom was equally important. And that miraculous event is known as the Miracle of La Dolorosa which also occurred in a school! The Devil and his cohorts had made the battlefield for Ecuadorean souls virtually in the classrooms of Catholic schools. These were the events that were needed to awaken the hearts and souls of the Ecuadoreans and give courage to the Catholic souls across the country! For through these two events, taking place in schools of Riobamba and Quito, consecutively in the span of less than 10 years, Heaven was able to wrench Ecuador away from the clutches of the demonic and soul-killing wave of Liberalism sweeping the country and place her back in the warm embrace of the Catholic Faith that Garcia Moreno had given his life for in 1875. Thus, the Consecration of Ecuador truly has been the element that seems to have sustained the Faith in these dire times for the Church and world as Our Lady of Good Success prophesized.