FIOR (Franciscan Institute Outreach - Malta)

9. Franciscan Saints and Mystics (3)

C) Franciscan Martyrs

9.18 Martyrs of Morocco (+1220)

During the General Chapter of 1219 Francis sent a group of six friars to the missions of North Africa. Their names were Vitale, Berardo, Pietro, Accursio, Adiuto and Ottone. Vitale, the superior, fell sick in Spain, and had to abandon his resolve to go to Morocco to evangelise the moors. The others proceeded under the leadership of Berardo. They first went to Seville, in southern Spain, which was occupied by the moors, and preached Christ publicly. They were taken in front of the emir, who gave them freedom to proceed to North Africa. They crossed over to Morocco, and preached in front of the king Miramolin. The king expelled them from his country, but they returned in their resolve to preach the Christian faith. On 16 January 1220, after cruel torments, they were slain by the king himself. Pope Sixtus IV canonised them in 1481. The account of their martyrdom is found in Analecta Franciscana III, pp. 579-596.

9.19 Martyrs of Ceuta (+1227)

In 1227 Daniel, Minister Provincial of Calabria, together with six companions, Angelo, Samuele, Donnolo, Leone, Ugolino and Nicola, left for the North African missions. They landed in Ceuta, where some Christian merchants advised them not to preach to the saracens. But they paid no heed to these warnings and proclaimed the Gospel without fear, until they were thrown in prison. There they wrote a letter to the Christians in the region, announcing that they were going to be martyred for the sake of the Gospel. After days of torment in the prison they were taken out and beheaded. Pope Leo X canonised them in 1517. The account of their martyrdom is found in Analecta Franciscana III, pp. 613-616.

9.20 Martyrs of Jerusalem (+1391)

The long history of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land includes many martyrs, the first among whom are St. Nicholas Tavelic and companions. In 1335 the Friars Minor were at the "coenaculum" and in 1342 Clement VI formally instituted the Custody of the Holy Land. The friars soon were officiating the "coenaculum", the Holy Sepulchre and Bethlehem. In 1391 four friars died as martyrs, as Gerald Calvet of Aquitaine, Guardian of Mt. Zion, wrote and confirmed in a letter. Their names were Nicholas Tavelic, Adeodat of Rodez, Peter of Narbonne and Stephen of Cuneo. Tavelic was of Croatian origin, the son of a noble family of Dalmatia. He was probably born in 1340. After a period in the missions of Bosnia, as a Friar Minor, he was sent to the Holy Land Custody in 1383. After learning the Arab language, together with his companions, he decided to preach the Gospel to the Moslems of the holy city of Jerusalem. On 11 November 1391 the friars went to the temple mount, which was, and still is, a holy place to the Moslems. That day happened to be the Islamic festival of Bairam. The friars were expelled from the mosque, and taken to the house of the cadi or magistrate, where they preached the Gospel. After being mercilessly beaten they were thrown into prison. On 14 November they were taken out of prison to their place of execution, where they were massacred by the mob and their remains thrown into the fire.

© copyright FIOR-Malta
Text by Fr. Noel Muscat ofm



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