Tag Archives: martyr

Saint Barnabas

St BarnabasWhen he converted to Christ from being a Cypriot Jew, Joseph changed his name to Barnabas, a name that means “son of encouragement.” Barnabas seems to be the cousin of John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark.

Barnabas’ conversion was total:  all of his money and property were given to the Church (Acts 4:32); he completely and unreservedly gave his life to Jesus. Like Paul, Barnabas was an apostle without being part of the 12. The Lord sent (the meaning of the word ‘apostle’) him as a powerful missionary and preacher; he worked with Saint Paul. Barnabas’ concern was to advocate that pagans (unbelievers) could be baptized as Christians without being circumcised. “The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch…for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11).

The Episcopal and Lutheran liturgical calendars note Barnabas as an Apostle and a martyr. Biblically, Barnabas is mentioned 27 times in the New Testament. He exhorted the Antioch community: “With steadfast purpose of heart remain with the Lord.” Good advice for all Christians.

Some will say that Barnabas was the first bishop of Milan and is credited with bringing Clement to Christian faith (who later became the 4th bishop of Rome). Saint Barnabas was martyred by stoning.

Saint Bartholomew

St Batholomew DurerSaint Bartholomew, known also as Nathanael, apostle and martyr, died in AD 71, is liturgically recalled today. However, his feast comes after the Sunday’s precedence. Nonetheless, we need to closely attend to the life and ministry of the 12, those who personally and dramatically lived with the Lord for three years. Why? Because we follow their experience and we continually ask ourselves the key question of the Christian life: “Who are you, Jesus?”

Saint Bartholomew, Bar-Tolmai or son of Tolmai, was one of the twelve Apostles called to the apostolate by our Blessed Lord Himself. His name is more adequately rendered by his given name, Nathanael. If one wonders why the synoptic Gospels always call him Bartholomew, it would be because the name Nathanael in Hebrew is equivalent to that of Matthew, since both in Hebrew signify gift of God; in this way the Evangelists avoided all confusion between the two Apostles. He was a native of Cana in Galilee, a doctor of the Jewish law, and a friend of Philip.

Philip, advised by Peter and Andrew, hastened to communicate to his friend the good news of his discovery of Christ: We have found Him whom Moses in the Law, and the Prophets, wrote! Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, Behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile. (Cf. John 1:45-49) His innocence and simplicity of heart deserved to be celebrated with this high praise in the divine mouth of Our Redeemer. And Nathanael, when Jesus told him He had already seen him in a certain place, confessed his faith at once: Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel!

Being eminently qualified by divine grace to discharge the functions of an Apostle, he carried the Gospel through the most barbarous countries of the East, penetrating into the remoter Indies, baptizing neophytes and casting out demons. A copy of the Gospel of Saint Matthew was found in India by Saint Pantænus in the third century, taken there, according to local tradition, by Saint Bartholomew. Saint John Chrysostom said the Apostle also preached in Asia Minor and, with Saint Philip, suffered there, though not mortally, for the faith. Saint Bartholomew’s last mission was in Greater Armenia, where, preaching in a place obstinately addicted to the worship of idols, he was crowned with a glorious martyrdom. The modern Greek historians say that he was condemned by the governor of Albanopolis to be crucified. Others affirm that he was flayed alive, which treatment might well have accompanied his crucifixion, this double punishment being in use not only in Egypt, but also among the Persians.

Reflection: The characteristic virtue of the Holy Apostles was zeal for the divine glory. A soldier is always ready to defend the honor of his prince, and a son that of his father; can a Christian say he loves God if he is indifferent to His honor?

Dictionnaire de la Bible, Ed. F. Vigouroux (Letouzey et Ané: Paris, 1912), Vol. 5, Philippe, Apôtre; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

Red versus White Martyrdom

On FB today a friend asked the question about the distinction between red and white martyrdom. We don’t hear much about white martyrdom in the Catholic Church. Probably because it is a bit more difficult to ascertain and that we have a lot of evidence of “hatred for the faith” going around. But it may be the case that our white martyrs of today are the ones who are listed annually by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Some think there are 11 Christians are martyred every hour around the world. So, I know the concept of red martyrdom –being killed out hatred for professing Christian faith; I was fairly certain about white martyrdom, but wasn’t confident. So, I asked a friend who is another Orthodox monk. My friend’s response follows:
Sts Boris and GlebA “Passion-bearer,” is one who is killed, not directly for professing the Christian Faith, but while practicing and upholding the practical implications of the Faith, frequently accepting death rather than themselves shedding blood. Their voluntary death links them in a very special way, to that of Christ’s Passion, so they are said to bear his passion in their own bodies.
The first to be designated as such were Ss. Boris and Gleb, sons of St Vladimir of Kiev. They were devout Christians who refused to shed blood or defend their royal rights against their brother, who had them murdered.
St Nicholas II and his Family were officially canonized as Passion Bearers, not martyrs (though they are often referred to as the latter). This was for the way in which they bore their humiliation and suffering following the Tsar’s abdication, all the while maintaining their faith in the Lord and trust in his Will. So, while one can quibble over Nicholas’ ups and downs as an Emperor, there is no question as to his genuine faith, model family life (not something most royals were known for), devotion to duty, and steadfastness under tribulation.
In the case of such Passion Bearers as the Imperial Family, including my beloved Grand Duchess/Nun St Elizabeth and her companions, a person with a secular mindset will say that they were killed simply because they were members of the former ruling family. However, viewed in Orthodox terms, the status of the Tsar as an anointed king (sacral and sacrosanct) who was actually very devout and strove to live and model the Faith, gives his death along with that of his family, a martyric character.

Blessed Salvio Huix i Miralpeix

MiralpeixSalvio Huix i Miralpeix was born on December 22, 1877 in Santa Margarida de Vellors in the Diocese of Vic in Catalonia. He was ordained a secular priest in 1903, and four years later entered the Congregation of the Oratory of Vic, the spiritual sons of Saint Philip Neri. At the Vic Oratory he lived for twenty years the Oratorian life of prayer, teaching the Catholic faith and administering the sacraments. He was the Provost of the Vic Oratory when, in 1927, he was nominated bishop of Ibiza; in 1935 he was transferred to the Diocese of Lérida where he was known for his effective apostolic work.

On July 21, 1936, Republican forces broke into the Episcopal palace and Bishop Miralpeix, reluctantly and in order to safeguard his associates, took refuge with friends. Seeing the dangers to which his helpers were exposed, on the night of July 23, he left his hideout and presented himself to the police, revealing his true identity. He was imprisoned at once, together with other prisoners with whom he shared both sufferings and also the joy of secret prayers and Masses, right up to the last moving Holy Communion which proved to be their Viaticum.

At 4:30 am onAugust 5, the prisoners were all of them taken to the local cemetery and shot. The bishop asked that he might be the last to be killed, so as to give absolution and comfort to his companions in martyrdom. Before his arrest, he entrusted his pectoral cross to a friend, asking him to take it to the Holy Father in Rome, for whom he was offering his life and to assure him of his loyalty.

It is said that prior to his arrest he gave his pectoral cross with a friend, asking him to take it to Pope Pius XI, with the message that if it were asked of him, he freely offered his life for the Pope, and to assure him of his complete fidelity to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.

Following closely the Oratorian charism, Blessed Salvio Huix-Miralpeix brought the light, warmth and joy of God’s love, which he had found in Saint Philip, into the darkness of chaos and hate. A terrific witness indeed. The initial phases for cause for canonization for Huix-Miralpeix happened between 1947 and 1950 and on July 27, 2011 Pope Benedict signed the decree determining that he was  was a Martyr for the Faith.

The beatification of Bishop Miralpeix (1877-1936), the first Oratorian martyr, along with 521 others, took place in Tarragona, Spain, on Sunday, October 13, 2013. The Oratorian beatus Bishop Miralpeix is added to a growing list of Oratorians who lived the gospel with humanity, intensity and holiness. They show us that conversion is possible.

So far, 1523 souls have been raised to the altar and beatified, 11 have already been named saints.

The text is redacted from what was published by the Oxford Oratorians.

802 new saints reflect the the glory of Love

BVM and 800 saints.jpg

Today the Church has 802 new saints, 800 of them are the martyrs of Otranto. This group of canonized were martyrs while you may say that Laura Montoya (aka, Lupita) and Maria Guadalupe García Zavala were “ordinary saints.” These are the first canonizations done by Pope Francis.

What catches our eyes that in one swoop 800 are recognized as martyr saints. Their history tells us that Ottoman soldiers invaded a Christian village town in 1480; the villagers were killed for refusing to convert to Islam, in fact, beheaded because they refused to renounce their Catholic faith.

The wall of skulls of the martyrs of Oltranto (note the picture) displayed prominently in Otranto Cathedral (Apulia region of Italy). These are the human remains, the relics of holy men and women; our new intercessors before the throne of Grace.

The year was 1480 and the fateful day when a fleet of 70 to 200 Ottoman Turks ships reached the city of Otranto, then part of the Kingdom of Naples. The Turkish forces were led by Gedik Ahmed Pasha.

July 28 marks the beginning of the Ottoman wars (1453-1683) in Europe; Mohammed II had invader and conquered Constantinople just 28 years earlier. On August 12, 800 people of Otranto,  Antonio Primaldo and his companions were taken to the hill of Minerva, now called the Hill of the Martyrs, and slaughtered for being faithful to Jesus Christ and His Church.

The Church’s precess of investigating the circumstances and holiness of these people began in 1539 and end on 14 December 1771 with the beatification of the people of Oranto by Pope Clement XIV. Benedict XVI issued a decree on 6 July 2007, stating that out of hatred for the faith these Catholics were killed. Therefore, certifying that martyrdom happened and therefore saints.

The Pope homily is here:

In this seventh Sunday of Easter we are gathered to celebrate with joy a feast of holiness. Thanks be to God who has made His glory – the glory of Love – to shine on the Martyrs of Otranto, on Mother Laura Montoya and María Guadalupe García Zavala. I greet all of you who have come to this celebration – from Italy, Colombia, Mexico, from other countries – and I thank you! Let us look on the new saints in the light of the Word of God proclaimed: a Word that invited us to be faithful to Christ, even unto martyrdom; a word that recalled to us the urgency and the beauty of bringing Christ and his Gospel to everyone; a word that spoke to us about the witness of charity, without which even martyrdom and mission lose their Christian savor.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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