Otranto Martyrs: exceptional witness of fidelity to Christ

(Vatican Radio) Today, Pope Francis will preside at a Mass for the Canonization of Blessed Antonio Primaldo and Companions; Blessed Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya y Upegui, virgin and foundress of the Congregation of the Missionaries of Mary Immaculate and St Catherine of Siena; Blessed Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, co-foundress of the Congregation of the Handmaids of St Margaret Mary (Alacoque) and the Poor.

The announcement of the canonization was made at a consistory on 11 February – a consistory made historic by Benedict XVI’s announcement that he would resign the papacy.

Among those being canonized on Sunday are 800 martyrs who gave their lives for Christ in 1480 – Antonio Primaldo and his Companions. These were the Martyrs of Otranto. Dr. Donald Prudlo, associate professor of Medieval History at Jacksonville State University, Alabama, spoke with Christopher Wells about their dramatic story:

“Mehmed II was one of the most powerful and successful emperors in Ottoman Turkish history. He had taken the impregnable city of Constantinople in 1453, and had pacified the Balkan regions. By the 1470s Mehmed ‘The Conqueror’ was preparing a death blow to Europe. His fleet sailed the Mediterranean without challenge. Having taken ‘New Rome’ he set his sights on ‘Old Rome.’ In order to test the resolve of Christian Europe he sent an exploratory raiding party in 1480. Its target was the small maritime town of Otranto in far south Italy. During this expedition thousands of people were massacred, in what was really an attempt to instill terror into the inhabitants of the peninsula. After the city fell, its civil and religious leaders were either beheaded or sawn into pieces. Eight hundred men of the town were offered the choice between conversion to Islam or death. Led by the tailor Antonio Primaldi, acting as spokesman for the group, they were beheaded, one by one, on a hill outside town while their families watched.

“The significance of their sacrifice was clear. Antonio and his townsmen had, in reality, saved Europe – their bravery gave Christendom time both to regroup, and to realize the gravity of the threat. Mehmed II died the next year, at the age of only 49, frustrating Ottoman plans for expansion.

“The Martyrs of Otranto are an exceptional testimony of fidelity to Christ, even in the midst of terrible sufferings. Simple lay Christians, defeated, leaderless, yet bound by their profession of faith in a hostile world, the Martyrs will receive the greatest honor bestowed by the Church, canonization as saints this Sunday, 12 May.”

Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/10/otranto_martyrs:_
of the Vatican Radio website

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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8 Responses to Otranto Martyrs: exceptional witness of fidelity to Christ

  1. Toad says:

    …And it shows us what a lot of rotters Muslims are.


  2. Frere Rabit says:

    For the sake of interfaith dialogue, we must be careful to avoid inflammatory rhetoric, Toad.

    Oh stuff it. What a load of rotters Muslims are.


  3. golden chersonnese says:

    I understand that because they were martyrs no miracle was required for their beatification in 1771 by the Franciscan Pope Clement XIV. Fortunately, to canonise them all did not require 800 miracles (a veritable miracle-fest!), but only one. Economy of scale?

    A Calabrian poor clare, Francesca Levote , was cured of a lethal cancer in 1980 after prayers jointly before the relics of Blessed Primaldo and his companions. Sister Francesca went to God 31 years later in 2011 at the age of 85 (most unlike Toad’s ailing rosy-cheeked youthful nuns in Avila).

    A certain aesthete in the British press recently suggested that it was Pope Benedict who (somehow embarrassingly?) threw this canonisation into the lap of Pope Francis. Actually, it looks like the process started after Pope John Paul visited Otranto in 1980.


  4. Toad says:

    “A Calabrian poor clare, Francesca Levote , was cured of a lethal cancer in 1980 …”

    Surely cured of a ‘potentially lethal’ cancer, Golden? Because a lethal one would certainly have killed the good lady.
    So, instead we rejoice in her very fortunate remission, and subsequent fullness of years.

    (Most of these ‘issues’ are about the interpretation of words aren’t they? Ludwig W. thought so and Toad agrees.)


  5. Pingback: Islam and Christianity | All Along the Watchtower

  6. Toad says:

    “Mehmed II was one of the most powerful and successful emperors in Ottoman Turkish history. He had taken the impregnable city of Constantinople in 1453,”

    Here we go again, don’t we Golden!
    If indeed Constantinople had really been ‘impregnable,’ then wicked old Mehmed could never have taken it, could he now?

    English is a difficult language, even for us ‘natives,’ who speak it all our lives.

    So you must not repine, or get discouraged..


  7. kathleen says:

    800 innocent Christians beheaded or sawn into pieces “whilst their families watched”!!! I suppose they were forced to do so. Can anyone imagine the anguish and horror of such a terrifying spectacle?
    May these holy courageous martyrs intercede for us now.

    And yet the Muslims, even now, keep whingeing about those naughty Christian crusaders who tried to secure the pathways to the Holy Land for Christian pilgrims.


  8. Toad says:

    Over the centuries The Christians, Muslims, and Jews have made such a hash of the oxymoronic “Holy Land,” between them that it might be worth letting the Mormons have a crack.


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