Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity". Pope Francis/Pope Benedict
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Friday, 3 May 2013

Pope Francis to canonize over 800 Italians who refused to "convert" to Islam

"They were martyred five centuries ago in the easternmost region of Italy, the spot most exposed to attack from the Muslims. The objective of the caliph Mohammed II was to conquer Rome, after having already taken Constantinople. But he was stopped by Christians who were ready to defend the faith with their blood" 
Sandro Magister, Chiesa

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, will be canonizing 813 martyrs for the Faith, slain by Ottomans in the 15th century. The Italian martyrs were offered freedom and life if they apostatized and embraced Islam. As a prelude to the massacre, the Ottomans burst into the Cathedral "where they found the archbishop, Stefano, who was there in his pontifical vestments and with the crucifix in his hand. To the order that he no longer speak the name of Christ, because from that moment Mohammed was in command, the archbishop responded by exhorting the assailants to conversion, and at this his head was cut off with a scimitar". (Chiesa, see link below)

Ottoman power was such that until the defeat at Vienna under John III Sobieski, on September 12th, 1683, this Islamic Empire was a constant threat to the peace and security of Europe. Ottomans were not thrust out of Europe until much later. The closing chapter of this evil empire was crowned with the infamy of the Armenian Genocide. 


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 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.


Recommended reading: Chiesa: How the 800 men of Otranto saved Rome
                                      Catholic Encyclopedia, Archdiocese of Otranto

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