Friday, May 3, 2013

Pope Francis' first canonization: 800 martyrs!


That is the altar with ALL of the relics of the martyrs.

Nope.  Not Khmer Rouge.

It's Otranto!


Pope Francis is preparing to canonise an estimated 800 Italian laymen killed by Ottoman soldiers in the 15th century. The canonisation service will be on May 12 in St Peter’s Square and it will be the first carried out by the Pontiff since he was elected in early March.  [The consistory announcing the canonization of these martyrs was announced by Benedict XVI along with his decision to step down as pope in February 11.]

The killing of the martyrs by Ottoman troops, who launched a weeks-long siege of Otranto, a small port town at the most eastern tip of southern Italy, took place in 1480.

When Otranto residents refused to surrender to the Ottoman army, the soldiers were ordered to massacre all males over the age of 15. Many were ordered to convert to Islam or die, but Blessed Antonio Primaldo, a tailor, spoke on the prisoners’ behalf. “We believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God, and for Jesus Christ we are ready to die,” he said, according to Blessed John Paul II, who visited Otranto in 1980 for the 500th anniversary of the martyrs’ deaths.

Primaldo inspired all the other townspeople to take courage, the late Pope said, and to say: “We will all die for Jesus Christ; we willingly die so as to not renounce his holy faith.” There were not “deluded” or “outdated,” Blessed John Paul continued, but “authentic, strong, decisive, consistent men” who loved their city, their families and their faith.

The skulls and other relics of the martyrs currently adorn the walls around the altar of Otranto Cathedral as a memorial to their sacrifice. [Imagine someone drooling at the sight of all those relics and would post a Facebook post of how lucky he was.  OK.  The relics are remains of the saints. OK, ok.  Take a deep breath....and ask this question.  Do you feel the same way in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament?  Simple question.  Check your temper.]  According to the archdiocese’s website, popular tradition holds that when the soldiers beheaded Primaldo, his body remained standing even as the combatants tried to push him over. Legend has it that the decapitated man stood until the very last prisoner was killed, at which point Primaldo’s body collapsed next to his dead comrades.

In 1771, the Church recognised the validity of the local veneration of Primaldo and his companions and allowed them to be called Blessed. In 2007, retired Pope Benedict XVI formally recognised [because they were not formally beatified] their martyrdom and, in 2012, he recognised a miracle attributed to their intercession. Martyrs do not need a miracle attributed to their intercession in order to be beatified. However, miracles must be recognised by the Vatican in order for them to become saints.

The miracle involved the late-Poor Clare Sister Francesca Levote. She was suffering from a serious form of cancer but was healed after a pilgrimage to pray before the martyrs’ relics in Otranto in 1980, a few months before Pope John Paul’s visit in October. She died in February 2012 at the age of 85.

In a letter published in December 2012, Archbishop Donato Negro of Otranto said that the martydom of the townnsfolk must represent a “purification of the memory of the Catholic Church and a rooting out of every possible lingering resentment, rancor, resentful policies, every eventual temptation toward hatred and violence, and every presumptuous attitude of religious superiority, religious arrogance, moral and cultural pride.”  [Uh...what now?  And I thought the glory of the martyrs show us their witness to the Gospel and their imitation to the ultimate act of giving up one's life for Jesus Christ, the model of all Christian martyrs.  Now the archbishop is saying that the martyrdom calls for the "purification of the memory of the Catholic Church...."???  Good golly!  Their martyrdoms are the glory of the Church!  Why rid our history of their glorious deaths?!]

Remembering Christian martyrs is an occasion to examine one’s own life and make sure it corresponds with the Gospel call to love and forgive, he added. [Uhm... archbishop.  The occasion calls us to "if anyone wishes to follow me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me."  I think that is the first thing that needs to come to mind.  And of course forgiving those who planned your (martyr's) death like what Jesus did on the cross, and what most records of martyr's death says like of St. Thomas More, St. Maria Goretti and St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe.] 


Tertullian once wrote that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church" and it is through the witness of their death that they mirror the death of Jesus Christ, that they inspire other Christians to offer their lives for God and for His Holy Church.

By the way, the word martyr came from the Greek word μάρτυς, mártys, which means "witness."

That comment of Archbishop Negro about the martyrs really has me scratching my head.  Really makes me wonder what all that hullabaloo was all about.



News came from the Catholic Herald.  Unfortunately, while I scour the web for this kind of news, some smart-aleck Facebook historian just gets the link from the source and does not even acknowledge this lowly blog as the source of the news.  How did I know?

Hello!  I am the owner of the blog.  I can see who visits.

And he says he doesn't visit my blog nor does he agree with my views...

OMG!!!  Pinoy Catholic knows I am reading his blog!
Better change my drama....

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