Tragedy in Totalán (Malaga) Triggers a Massive Response of Help and Concern


After twelve days of bitter anguish since two year old Julen fell down an illegal borehole of no more than 25 centimetres diametre during a family day out, finally the miners are now, at the time of writing, closing in on where the infant must be lying, 110 meters deep down into the mountain.

It has been one of the most difficult rescue missions ever known, not only in Spain but in the world. The whole country is right now glued to the TV waiting for news that little Julen has been found. Hundreds of people from the small town and further afield have come together during these anxious days of continuing setbacks in the work to find Julen to offer their services, food and homes to the selfless rescue workers. From ‘El Pais this afternoon:

Totalán: The Spanish town united for trapped toddler Julen Roselló

Aerial view of Totalán

Totalán is a small town nestled between mountains in a part of Málaga province known as Axarquía. It is home to just 715 residents. But when 300 people descended on the village to help rescue Julen Roselló, the two-year-old boy who fell down a 110-meter borehole on January 13, the people of Totalán were quick to pitch in and help. The priority is clear: rescuers must have everything they need to reach Julen.

This tremendous display of goodness in an unprecedented outpouring of prayers, kindness and concern, not only from the townsfolk at the scene, but also from the 300 strong rescue team (who have been working nonstop round the clock) and from millions of onlookers around the world, demonstrates the very best of humanity and the grandeur of the human heart. Nothing has been left aside in this effort to save the life of one little boy that only a tiny percentage of these people have ever met.

In this time of widespread abortion, infanticide and growing calls to legalise euthanasia, (often known as the ‘Culture of Death’) it is heartwarming to witness the real purpose for which Man was created, and so vividly seen here in the case of Julen: to treasure, safeguard and protect every single life! Life is sacred, for each human being is created in the Image and Likeness of God:

Of all visible creatures only man is “able to know and love his creator”.219 He is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake”,220 and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God’s own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity. (CCC 356)

Parents of two-year-old Julen Roselló.

During all this time of the rescue, Julen’s distraught young father, José Roselló – despite mostly keeping a low key since the toddler fell down the borehole a few yards away from him – has come forward in tears to thank the police, rescue workers and many kindnesses received. Meanwhile the days keep passing by in anguish for all concerned with the drilling and digging meeting with one obstacle after another. Throughout this agonising wait Julen’s parents have clung to the belief that their little son is still alive, protected by the angel of his elder brother (who died, aged three, from a sudden cardiac arrest in 2017). They adamantly refuse to give up hope. Naturally, if little Julen were indeed to come out alive from this borehole after twelve plus days, it would be nothing short of miraculous.


THIS article published four days ago in El Pais reports on the background and some of the events leading up to the imminent conclusion of the rescue of Julen. We will publish an update when the rescue operation is completed.


UPDATE – BREAKING NEWS: At 01:25 hours, on January 26, the lifeless body of Julen Roselló has been recovered from the borehole.


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8 Responses to Tragedy in Totalán (Malaga) Triggers a Massive Response of Help and Concern

  1. myfaithisoverflowing says:

    It is so sad, they lost one child already… Do they know if he is alive? I will be praying for them..


  2. DonnaLiane says:

    Two children in heaven already. Extraordinarily sad. I pray they keep their Faith and it grows beyond measure now.


  3. mmvc says:

    May Our Lady comfort the parents in their terrible grief.


  4. kathleen says:

    Yes, it’s truly heartbreaking to lose two small children, both much wanted and much loved, within a space of under two years. (Julen was a few months old when his three-year-old brother Oliver died suddenly.) Both parents are strong in their faith, but this will be the hardest of tests for them. When interviewed a few days after the accident, Julen’s maternal grandmother lamented that she didn’t believe in God any longer. Moments later she added, “God has been very unjust with us”. Therefore she clearly still believes in her heart, poor woman, but like many when sorely tried in suffering she is crying out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    God works in mysterious ways, as we have often mentioned here. One day this terrible loss will be understood by all those who cannot understand how God could have “allowed” it. These two little innocents, both baptised, will be in Heaven praying for their sorrowing parents, family and neighbours.

    The parish priest of Totalán has given a most powerful and yet sensitive homily about this tragedy. If I have time later I will translate it into English and post it here.


  5. kathleen says:

    There is one undeniable positive fact caused by this tragedy that I already spoke about in the article… and which the many journalists have noted with awe these 12 long days, and are continually repeating in the Media:

    The massive outpouring of love, generosity, aid, concern, selfless dedication (and I could go on) to rescue this little boy and comfort his family is something quite incredible. A tsunami of grace has been witnessed here, the very best of the human soul.


  6. Brie V says:

    I’m struggling in my Faith and trying to understand why, if a large number of people from around the world came together in prayer and asking God for a miracle, the outcome was every parents worst nightmare. I don’t want to lose my Faith.


  7. Brie V says:

    Kathleen, please do share the homily. I would love to hear it as this tragedy has hit my soul. I ponder on it and cannot understand why. I come across many sad stories but this one has hit me hard.


  8. kathleen says:

    Dear Brie, I’m sorry you’re struggling in your Faith due to the sad outcome of this tragedy. Your sadness in itself is a good thing, believe it or not, for it demonstrates you have a kind and caring heart and that you sympathise greatly with Julen’s parents and family. That is truly “loving your neighbour as yourself”.

    Yes, others are surely asking themselves the same questions, thinking their many prayers have not been answered. But they have, they really have… only not in the way they wanted, or expected! I’ll explain what I mean by something that happened while the rescue was underway and everyone was waiting anxiously for news.

    On the third day Julen’s father was interviewed for the first time by reporters at the scene. The distraught young man, unable to admit his child might be dead, said in faltering words between tears that Julen was being protected by angels and his older brother (who had died less than two years previously) was with him. Children in the village started doing sweet drawings based on Julen’s father’s words. Although the lifeless body of the toddler was later brought out from the borehole twelve days after the accident, some of these drawings remained pasted up on billboards in the village. Why? Because many began to realise that this is truly what had happened: Julen was safe and was now with his brother and the angels, only not here on earth, but in Heaven.

    The gist of the lovely sermon by the parish priest was a reminder of this too. Our lives on earth are no more than a preparation for this eternal home for which we were created. An excerpt:

    “Although our hearts are breaking, the bells of glory ring out in Totalán, for through faith we know with absolute certainty that the immensity of Heaven is the great promise of Jesus. True Faith is knowing that we’re made for everlasting joy with God, that we pass through life on earth as on a journey, and that Heaven is our real home.
    Let us ask Julen to intercede for us and help us discover each day our human fragility so we may face the infinite greatness of faith and trust accomplished in eternity.”


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