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The Martyrs of Otranto


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martyrs-otrantoNational Review:

Pope Francis celebrated his first canonizations in the course of his Mass in St. Peter’s Square last Sunday, giving the Catholic Church over 800 new saints. All but two (a Colombian nun and a Mexican nun) were the “martyrs of Otranto,” who were beheaded for their faith after Turkish Muslims invaded their southern-Italian port city in 1480. In the pope’s words, “They had refused to renounce their faith and died confessing the risen Christ.” According to some historical records, while the 800 were being executed, a Turk by the name of Bersabei was inspired to convert. He too suffered martyrdom, impaled by his own comrades-in-arms.

Christians of all faith traditions have long been persecuted in many countries, but today in the Muslim world, where Christians are often the largest non-Muslim minority, the persecution is accelerating and spreading.


Pope Francis had met with the Coptic pope, Tawadros II of Alexandria, just two days before, and no doubt he was praying for the mounting number of Coptic martyrs in Egypt, with whom, he had said, Catholics are united in the “ecumenism of suffering,” This would include the two killed and seven dozen wounded as they were leaving St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria on April 7 and also the four whose funeral had just taken place inside the cathedral, who had been murdered in a Muslim pogrom the previous day. It would also include those languishing in prison for their faith, such as Nadia Mohamed Ali and her seven children, all of whom were sentenced by an Egyptian court to 15 years’ imprisonment earlier this year for converting to Christianity. Another Christian woman, Demyana Emad, a 23-year-old primary-school teacher, was jailed last week for “insulting Islam” in her classroom — only the latest example of the Islamist government’s blasphemy prosecutions, typically of Christians.Scissors-32x32.png

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