Today Pope John Paul II will beatify 233 Catholics who died in 1936 in Spain's civil war. Almost all of them died in the province of Valencia at the hands of forces battling General Francisco Franco. Many of those who will be beatified at the Vatican tomorrow were nuns and priests, victims of a bloody anti-clerical campaign. The civil war broke out when Franco led a revolt against Spain's democratically elected left-wing government. Franco won the war, which claimed about 500,000 lives, and went on to rule Spain for 36 years until his death. The Pope has beatified nearly 1,000 people since he became pontiff in 1978. Several were other victims of the anti-clerical campaign during the Spanish civil war.
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