Those called the Martyrs of Armenia are understood today to be the forerunners of the WWI Armenian genocide by the Turks.

Between 1895–96, eight Franciscans martyed by invading Islamic Turks who tortured them, demanded their conversion to a false religion, and murdered them when they refused. They were:

• Baldji Oghlou Ohannes
• David Oghlou David
• Dimbalac Oghlou Wartavar
• Geremia Oghlou Boghos
• Khodianin Oghlou Kadir
• Kouradji Oghlou Tzeroum
• Salvatore Lilli
• Toros Oghlou David

“Martyrdom for the love of Christ thus became a great legacy of many generations of Armenians. The most valuable treasure that one generation could bequeath to the next was fidelity to the Gospel, so that, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the young would become as resolute as their ancestors in bearing witness to the Truth.

“The example of Christian Armenia testifies that faith in Christ brings hope to every human situation, no matter how difficult. We pray that the saving light of Christian faith may shine on both the weak and the strong, on both the developed and developing nations of this world. Particularly today, the complexities and challenges of the international situation require a choice between good and evil, darkness and light, humanity and inhumanity, truth and falsehood. Present issues of law, politics, science, and family life touch upon the very meaning of humanity and its vocation. They call today’s Christians – no less than the martyrs of other times – to bear witness to the Truth even at the risk of paying a high price.

“This witness will be all the more convincing if all of Christ’s disciples could profess together the one faith and heal the wounds of division among themselves. May the Holy Spirit guide Christians, and indeed all people of good will, on the path of reconciliation and brotherhood. Here at Holy Etchmiadzin we renew our solemn commitment to pray and work to hasten the day of communion among all the members of Christ’s faithful flock, with true regard for our respective sacred traditions.

“With God’s help, we shall do nothing against love, but “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, we shall lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and shall run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (cf. Heb 12:1)

(John Paul II and Karekin II, Holy Etchmiadzin, 27 September 2001)

These eight Franciscans were beatified by John Paul II on 3 October 1982. May the holy friars intercede for before God.