During 1937, in Alicante, a young Spaniard of Nationalist sympathies had been caught while trying to board a foreign ship, and lay in prison under sentence of death. Earnestly he was praying, not for release, but to get confession and absolution before he died.
On the night before his execution the cell-door opened and an old man dressed as a pedlar was thrown in.
‘Get in here,’ said the jailer. ‘Tomorrow you’ll have the cell to yourself.’
The first prisoner lay watching the new-comer take off his shoes and cloak, and prepare himself for the night. Before lying down, however, the old man scratched a small cross on the wall and knelt down to say his prayers.
‘Are you a Catholic?’ asked the young man eagerly.
‘I am. And you?’
They talked in low tones, and soon the young man told the other of his longing for confession.
‘I still think God may grant my prayer.’
‘He has granted it already,’ said the pedlar, with a smile. ‘I am a priest. Ever since the war began I have gone from place to place in this disguise to bring the sacraments to the faithful.’
Next morning the jailer was puzzled to see that the young prisoner, when led out to die, no longer wore a look of fear and strain, but of radiant peace and joy.
– Rev. F.H. Drinkwater, Catechism Stories Part IV: The Sacraments (1939)