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How the 800 Martyrs of Otranto Saved Rome

On August 14, 1480, a massacre was perpetrated on a hill just outside the city of Otranto, in southern Italy. Eight hundred of the city’s male inhabitants were taken to a place called the Hill of the Minerva, and, one by one, beheaded in full view of their fellow prisoners. The spot forever after became known as the Hill of the Martyrs.

In medieval warfare, the bloody execution of a city’s population was commonplace, but what happened at Otranto was unique. The victims on the Hill of the Minerva were put to death not because they were political enemies of a conquering army, nor even because they refused to surrender their city. They died because they refused to convert to Islam. The 800 men of Otranto were martyrs, the first victims of what was fully expected to be the relentless conquest of Italy and then all of Christendom by the armies of the Ottoman Empire. Because of their sacrifice, however, the Ottoman invasion was slowed and Rome was spared the same fate that had befallen Constantinople only 27 years before.

Mehmet the Conqueror

On May 29, 1453, the venerable city of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire since its founding by Constantine the Great in the fourth century, fell to an army of 250,000 Ottoman Turks under the personal command of the 21-year-old Sultan Mehmet II. Earning his title, el-Fatih ("the Conqueror"), Mehmet completed the centuries’ old war against the Byzantines and made the once-great Christian city the new capital of his Islamic empire and the launching point for his grand plans of dominion over the West.

Ottoman armies were soon once more on the march, this time headed straight for the heart of Europe. Mehmet laid siege to the city of Belgrade, but his troops were repulsed by the Hungarians. Even so, the campaign ended with the Ottoman occupation of Serbia and a strategically strong position to push into the rest of the Balkans, including Wallachia (Romania) and Moldavia. Mehmet was relentless in his next efforts. Defeated in 1475 by Stephen the Great of Moldavia at the Battle of Vaslui, the Sultan merely waited until the next year to launch yet another army into the field. This time he crushed the Moldavians at the Battle of Valea Alba. More progress would have been made had Mehmet not been checked in the mountains of Wallachia by a foe even more determined and just as merciless: the Wallachian prince and one-time vassal of Mehmet, Vlad III Tepes, known to history as Vlad the Impaler, or Vlad Dracula.

Rebuffed for the moment in the Balkans, Mehmet turned to completing a task he had set himself back in 1453. After the fall of Constantinople, Mehmet claimed one other title alongside that of el-Fatih. He called himself Kayser-i Rûm ("Caesar of Rome") on the basis that he was successor to the throne of the Byzantine Empire and also a descendant of Theodora Kantakouzenos (daughter of the Byzantine Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos) who had been married to Sultan Orhan I (r. 1326-1359). Mehmet announced his intention to invade Italy, capture Rome, and bring together both halves of the Roman Empire. The campaign would also mark the final defeat of the Christian cause in Europe by the conversion of the city of the popes. St. Peter’s Basilica would serve as a stable for the Ottoman cavalry.

The Sultan Aims for Italy

Mehmet halted the ongoing siege of Rhodes—brilliantly defended by the Knights of Rhodes—and ordered large elements of the Turkish army and navy there to set sail for the Italian peninsula. The fleet comprised at least 90 galleys, 15 heavily armed galleasses, and 48 lighter galliots carrying over 18,000 soldiers. Their initial target was the Italian port city of Brindisi, in Puglia (or Apulia), the southeastern corner of the peninsula along the Adriatic Sea. The city was an ideal choice as it offered a large harbor for the ships. The commander of the Ottoman force, Pasha Ahmet, was one of the most formidable of Mehmet’s generals. He intended to capture the port and then advance immediately north toward Rome while Ottoman reinforcements arrived to consolidate the seized territory.

The movement of the fleet was aided considerably by the absence of resistance by the maritime power of Venice. The Venetians and the Ottoman Empire had been fighting each other off and on for dominance in the eastern Mediterranean and Adriatic since 1423. Much to Mehmet’s pleasure, the two powers signed a peace treaty in 1479 that ended hostilities, at least temporarily. The Sultan thus attacked Rhodes and then launched his campaign on Italy without fear of the Christian state of Venice blocking the progress of his armies.

The Adriatic’s weather did not cooperate, however, and the famous winds forced the fleet to land not in Brinidisi but some 50 miles to the south, at Roca, near the city of Otranto. The city is located on the eastern shore of the sub-peninsula of Salento, the small bit of land that juts out from the larger Italian peninsula and that has been described as the "heel" of the Italian "boot." In 1480, the area was Neapolitan/Aragonese, meaning it was under the control of the united kingdoms of Naples and Aragon. Otranto’s cathedral dated to the late 11th century and had been the scene, ironically, of the enthusiastic blessing of some 12,000 Crusaders under the leadership of Bohemond of Taranto just before they set sail to take part in the First Crusade (1095-1099).

The city’s walls afforded a wonderful view of the Adriatic, but on the morning of July 29, an ominous sight appeared on the horizon: The Ottoman fleet had landed nearby. Thousands of soldiers and sailors began marching toward Otranto, where the garrison of soldiers numbered only around 400. Messengers were sent north to alert the rest of the peninsula of the danger that had arrived from the sea.

The castle had no cannons, and the garrison commander, Count Francesco Largo, was aware of the limited supplies and water. Medieval warfare, even after the emergence of cannons, was predicated on stark and often grim choices on the part of the defenders of any city or castle under siege. The defenders could either hope to hold out (especially if a relief army was on the way), or they could negotiate a surrender. Surrender was an option to be considered as early as possible, for the longer a siege went on the harsher the terms might become. Should a city or castle fight to the last and have its walls breached, staggering violence usually followed as the conquering force pillaged, vented its pent-up frustration, and searched for loot and treasure.

Surrender or Die

For the citizens of Otranto, the siege of Constantinople was still well-known. When that city fell, Ottoman troops were allowed to pillage parts of the city, but the key moment came when they reached the famed church of the Hagia Sophia. After breaking down the church’s bronze gates, the Turkish troops found inside a huge throng of Byzantines who had taken refuge and who were praying that the city might be delivered by some miracle. The Christians were seized and separated according to age and gender. The infants and elderly were brutally murdered; the men—including some of the city’s most prominent senators—were carted off to the slave markets; and the women and girls were taken by soldiers or sent into a life of slavery.

At Otranto, the terms of the Pasha were ostensibly generous. If the town surrendered, the defenders would be permitted to live. Otranto was forfeit. The answer to the Pasha’s demands was firm: The Christians would not surrender. When a second messenger was sent to the walls to repeat the demands, he was met with arrows from the walls. To settle the issue, the leaders of the castle defense climbed to the top of the tower and threw the keys of the city into the sea. When the determined defenders awoke in the morning, however, some of the soldiers had fled by climbing down the walls and running for their lives.

The few hundred inhabitants of Otranto now faced 18,000 fierce Ottomans with barely 50 Neapolitan soldiers. The siege engines and Ottoman cannons brought down a relentless torrent of stones, and waves of Ottoman soldiers crashed against the walls and tried to climb up to get at the frantic defenders. The people of the town boiled oil and water to pour down upon the enemy while others hurled rocks, statues, and furniture.

The struggle went for nearly two harrowing weeks until, in the early morning of August 12, the Ottomans breached a part of the wall with their cannons. A spirited defense was waged amid the rubble of the broken wall, but the people of Otranto were hopelessly overmatched, lacking any training in vicious hand-to-hand combat, and exhausted by the ordeal of the siege.

Slaughter, Sacrilege, and Slavery

Turkish troops slaughtered the stalwart defenders and then rushed through the city killing anyone in their path. They made their way to the cathedral. As in the Hagia Sophia, the invaders found the church filled with people praying with Archbishop Stefano Agricoli, Bishop Stephen Pendinelli, and Count Largo. The Ottomans commanded the archbishop to throw away his crucifix, abjure the Christian faith, and embrace Islam. When he refused, his head was cut off before the weeping congregation. Bishop Pendinelli and Count Largo likewise would not convert and were also put to death, reportedly by being slowly sawed in half. As was the custom, the priests were murdered and the cathedral was stripped of all Christian symbols and turned into a stable for the horses. The Ottomans then gathered up the surviving people of Otranto and took them as captives. Their ultimate fate was in the hands of Pasha Ahmed.

The people of Otranto faced the same end as the Christians of Constantinople. All of the men over the age of 50 were slaughtered; the women and children under the age of 15 were either slain or sent away to Albania to be slaves. According to some contemporary sources, the total number of dead was as high as 12,000, with another 5,000 pressed into slavery. (These numbers are almost certainly an exaggeration as Otranto did not likely have a population that high.) Nevertheless, worse was still to come.

Death before Apostasy

The Pasha Ahmet ordered the men of Otranto, 800 exhausted, beaten, and starved survivors of the battle, to be brought before him. The Pasha informed them that they had one chance to convert to Islam or die. To convince them, he instructed an Italian apostate priest named Giovanni to preach. The former priest called on the men of Otranto to abandon the Christian faith, spurn the Church, and become Muslims. In return, they would be honored by the Pasha and receive many benefits.

One of the men of Otranto, a tailor named Antonio Primaldi (he is also named Antonio Pezzulla in some sources), came forward to speak to the survivors. He called out that he was ready to die for Christ a thousand times. He then added, according to the chronicler Giovanni Laggetto in the Historia della guerra di Otranto del 1480:

My brothers, until today we have fought in defense of our country, to save our lives, and for our lords; now it is time that we fight to save our souls for our Lord, so that having died on the cross for us, it is good that we should die for him, standing firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we shall win eternal life and the glory of martyrs. [author translation]

At this, the men of Otranto cried out with one voice that they too were willing to die a thousand times for Christ. The angry Pasha Ahmed pronounced his sentence: death.

The next morning, August 14, the 800 prisoners were bound together with ropes and led out of the still-smoking battleground of Otranto and up the Hill of Minerva. The victims repeated their pledge to be faithful to Christ, and the Ottomans chose the courageous Antonio Primaldo as the first to be executed.

The old tailor gave one final exhortation to his fellow prisoners and knelt before the executioner. The blade fell and decapitated him, but then, as the chronicler Saverio de Marco claimed in the Compendiosa istoria degli ottocento martiri otrantini ("The Brief History of the 800 Martyrs of Otranto"), the headless corpse stood back upright. The body supposedly proved unmovable, so it remained standing for the entire duration of the gruesome executions. Stunned by this apparent miracle, one of the executioners converted on the spot and was immediately killed. The executioners then returned to their horrendous business. The bodies were placed into a mass grave, and the Turks prepared to begin their march up the peninsula toward Rome. Otranto was in ruins, its population gone, its men dead and thrown into a pit, seemingly to be forgotten.

The Second Seige of Otranto

All of Italy was by now in a state of alarm. Pope Sixtus IV was reportedly so concerned for the safety of the Eternal City that he renewed the call first made in 1471 for a crusade against the Turks. Hungary, France, and a number of Italian city-states answered the plea. Not surprisingly, Venice refused, still bound by its treaty. The pope also made plans to evacuate Rome should the Turks arrive near the gates of the city.

Time was now of crucial importance to the safety of the Italian peninsula, and the king of Naples, Ferdinand I, quickly gathered his available forces and charged his son Alfonso, duke of Calabria, with the campaign. The two weeks that were purchased through the sacrifice of the people of Otranto became the key to organizing an effective response to the invasion, for the Neapolitan forces now had the chance to bottle up the Turks in Apulia rather than battling them across Italy.

Toward the end of August, Pasha Ahmed sent 70 ships of the Ottoman fleet to attack the city of Vieste. Turkish troops pushed on and destroyed the small church of Santa Maria di Merino and in early September set fire to the Monastery of San Nicholas di Casole. The monastery’s famed library was reduced to ashes.

In October, the Pasha attacked the cities of Lecce, Taranto, and Brindisi. He left behind a garrison at Otranto of 800 infantry and 500 cavalry. But time and the weather were now against the Turks. Ahmed had lost his chance to strike northwest, and he was finding supplies and food difficult to find in Apulia. He was also aware of the impending advance of the Neapolitan forces. He therefore decided to set sail from Italy before the winter storms in the Adriatic cut him off completely from all communication with Constantinople. The garrison at Otranto would remain, and the Pasha intended to return after the winter with an even larger army.

Duke Alfonso led his army into Apulia in the early spring of 1481. He was assisted by a force of Hungarian troops that had been dispatched by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, a longtime foe of the Turks and a monarch eager to deliver them a defeat in Italy. Like the people of Otranto a year before, the Turkish troops retreated to the rebuilt defenses of the city as the Christian army arrived at the gates on May 1. The city was thoroughly invested. The siege of Otranto continued apace for several months, culminating in two large assaults, in August and then September 1481. The city fell with the second attack, but the last vestiges of Otranto were destroyed in the vicious fighting. None of the Ottoman troops were left alive.

The Sacrifice That Saved Italy

While the siege engines of the Neapolitans rained down on the Ottoman defenders, across the Adriatic on May 3, 1481, Sultan Mehmet II the Conqueror died suddenly at the age of 49 at his military headquarters at Gebze, while planning his next war. It was believed that he had been poisoned, perhaps by the Venetians.

Any thought of a relief force sailing from the Ottoman Empire for Italy died with Mehmet, for his heir, Bayezid II, was forced to engage in a bitter struggle with his brother Cem for the throne. Pasha Ahmed fell out of favor at the court and was recalled to Constantinople by Bayezid and imprisoned. On November 18, 1482, the one-time great general was executed at Adrianople.

The Ottoman ambitions in Italy were ended. Had Otranto surrendered to the Turks, the history of Italy might have been very different. But the heroism of the people of Otranto was more than a strategically decisive stand. What made the sacrifice of Otranto so remarkable was the willingness to die for the faith rather than reject Christ.

The martyrs of Otranto were not forgotten by the people who returned to Apulia after the fighting was over. The bones of the martyrs were gathered up, placed in reliquaries, and installed in a chapel just off the main altar in the restored cathedral. Some of the relics were also sent to the church of Santa Caterina in Formello at Naples.

On October 5, 1980, Pope John Paul II visited Otranto and said Mass in honor of the martyrs in the cathedral. Twenty-six years later, in July 2006, Pope Benedict XVI gave his formal approval for the promulgation of a decree by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints that the Martyrs of Otranto were killed out of "hatred for the faith" (in odium fidei) in Otranto on August 14, 1480. This was the formal recognition that they were martyrs.

In speaking of the sufferings of the martyrs of Otranto, Pope John Paul II touched upon the challenges of martyrdom for Christ, but he also stressed the example of the 800 to modern Christians, especially those enduring hardships and sufferings in hostile lands where persecutions and even death are commonplace. He declared,

Many confessors and disciples of Christ have passed through this test in the course of history. The Martyrs of Otranto passed through it 500 years ago. The martyrs of this century have passed and are passing through it today, martyrs who are unappreciated, otherwise little known, and who are found in places far away from us. [author translation

Tags: Europe, Italy, Jihad, Otranto, qfightback

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These are better photos of the skulls.  I remember the first time I heard about this story (only 4 years ago), I was aghast that I could have been brought up a catholic in Europe, considered myself well-educated, and had never heard of this.

Here are two better photos that capture the scale and horror of the massacre.  It is salutory to consider the difference between the christian and islamic concept of martyr.  Islamic martyers are aggressors.

On the day the outgoing Pope announced his resignation, he also announced he would canonize the martyrs of Otranto.

He has now canonized the jihad victims of Otranto.

There were many reasons I disliked this pope.  But this was one of the reasons to like him.

Pope Francis to canonise 800 Italians slain during historic siege

By on Tuesday, 30 April 2013

People view relics of the martyrs in the Cathedral of Otranto (Photo: CNS)

People view relics of the martyrs in the Cathedral of Otranto (Photo: CNS)

Pope Francis is preparing to canonise an estimated 800 Italian laymen killed by Ottoman soldiers in the 15th century. The canonisation service will be on May 12 in St Peter’s Square and it will be the first carried out by the Pontiff since he was elected in early March.

The killing of the martyrs by Ottoman troops, who launched a weeks-long siege of Otranto, a small port town at the most eastern tip of southern Italy, took place in 1480.

When Otranto residents refused to surrender to the Ottoman army, the soldiers were ordered to massacre all males over the age of 15. Many were ordered to convert to Islam or die, but Blessed Antonio Primaldo, a tailor, spoke on the prisoners’ behalf. “We believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God, and for Jesus Christ we are ready to die,” he said, according to Blessed John Paul II, who visited Otranto in 1980 for the 500th anniversary of the martyrs’ deaths.

Primaldo inspired all the other townspeople to take courage, the late Pope said, and to say: “We will all die for Jesus Christ; we willingly die so as to not renounce his holy faith.” There were not “deluded” or “outdated,” Blessed John Paul continued, but “authentic, strong, decisive, consistent men” who loved their city, their families and their faith.

The skulls and other relics of the martyrs currently adorn the walls around the altar of Otranto Cathedral as a memorial to their sacrifice. According to the archdiocese’s website, popular tradition holds that when the soldiers beheaded Primaldo, his body remained standing even as the combatants tried to push him over. Legend has it that the decapitated man stood until the very last prisoner was killed, at which point Primaldo’s body collapsed next to his dead comrades.

In 1771, the Church recognised the validity of the local veneration of Primaldo and his companions and allowed them to be called Blessed. In 2007, retired Pope Benedict XVI formally recognised their martyrdom and, in 2012, he recognised a miracle attributed to their intercession. Martyrs do not need a miracle attributed to their intercession in order to be beatified. However, miracles must be recognised by the Vatican in order for them to become saints.

The miracle involved the late-Poor Clare Sister Francesca Levote. She was suffering from a serious form of cancer but was healed after a pilgrimage to pray before the martyrs’ relics in Otranto in 1980, a few months before Pope John Paul’s visit in October. She died in February 2012 at the age of 85.

In a letter published in December 2012, Archbishop Donato Negro of Otranto said that the martydom of the townnsfolk must represent a “purification of the memory of the Catholic Church and a rooting out of every possible lingering resentment, rancor, resentful policies, every eventual temptation toward hatred and violence, and every presumptuous attitude of religious superiority, religious arrogance, moral and cultural pride.”

Remembering Christian martyrs is an occasion to examine one’s own life and make sure it corresponds with the Gospel call to love and forgive, he added.

Better extermination than Islam: the Pope makes them saints

The Beatification of the Otranto Martyrs

The following moving story about the beatification of the Otranto martyrs was published today in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale. Many thanks to Scaramouche for the translation:

Better extermination than Islam: the Pope makes them saints

by Fausto Biloslavo

In Otranto 500 years ago, 800 martyrs chose to be slain rather than to deny Christ. This is also happening today.

The 800 Christian martyrs of Otranto are to become saints after more than 500 years, a milestone for the faith and today more relevant than ever.

On Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis will preside over the canonization of the martyrs of Otranto massacred by Ottoman janissaries. In Libya, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and other Muslim countries, Christian minorities are still under threat, especially after the increasingly Islamist Arab Spring. “It is clear that there are still Christian martyrs today. The canonization of the 800 of Otranto is a sign that the Church is not afraid of taboos,” emphasizes Massimo Introvigne, the coordinator of the Observatory on Religious Freedom for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Roma Capitale [Note: this is the administrative authority for greater Rome]. “There are rumours that the Islamic countries have complained a lot about this canonization,” said the expert. “So do not expect a second Regensburg speech (as delivered by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who infuriated Islam, A/N) from the Holy Father. But diplomacy will surely have suggested that the Pope will throw water on the fire.”

In 1480 the Ottoman fleet of Gedik Ahmet Pasha attacked Otranto. After two weeks of siege, the defences gave way. The survivors gathered in the cathedral, which was turned into a stable by the Ottoman knights. The bishop, Stefano Pendinelli, was slashed to pieces by scimitar blows and the captain of the guard sawn apart alive. The 800 males over the age of 15 held captive by the Turks were offered their salvation in exchange for conversion to Islam. A tailor, Antonio Primaldo said, “So far we have fought for the fatherland and to save our heritage and life. Now we need to stand up for Jesus Christ and to save our souls.” The Ottoman commander ordered him to be beheaded, but his body, according to the legend, remained standing until the head of the last of the 800 martyrs of Otranto, who refused to renounce their Christian faith, was cut off.

Pope Clement XIV recognized them as “Blessed,” but not until the 6th July 2007 did Benedict XVI issue the decree that recognized martyrdom “in hatred of the faith.” Last 12th February, the day of his resignation, the Pope announced that “the Blessed Antonio Primaldo and Companions, Martyrs, will be enlisted within the Register of Saints on Sunday May 12th 2013.” The Church is showing remarkable courage with these uncomfortable beatifications. “With the martyrs of Otranto a taboo is broken. Christians are still being killed today by Islamic extremists from Nigeria to Pakistan,” notes Introvigne. Dominique Rezeau, one of the more esteemed Catholic priests, told Fides agency that “of one hundred thousand Christians who lived in Libya before the revolution, there remain only a few thousand.” In Tunisia, the Salafists want the Caliphate and the death penalty for apostates. In Syria two weeks ago two Orthodox bishops Gregorios Yohannna Ibrahim and Boulos al-Yazigi were kidnapped. Since 9th February, there has been no news of a couple of priests. “The canonization of the martyrs of Otranto is of current relevance. It must be said that today Turkey receives the Christian refugees fleeing Syria, but there are countries like Nigeria where Boko Haram (Islamic terrorist group) wants to drive Christians out with terror or force them into a ghetto. We are facing an Islamist Spring,” observed Attilio Tamburrini former director of the annual report of Aid to the Church in Need. Paolo Affattato of the Fides agency is “a little cautious on the current relevance of the martyrs of Otranto. Apostasy, however, still prevails today in countries like Iran or Pakistan. Muslims who wants to convert to Christianity risk their lives and have to flee.”

This from a Muslim perspective

Pope Canonizes Saints Who Refused Islam

OnIslam & News Agencies


Sunday, 12 May 2013 00:00

The pontiff canonized more than 800 Italians, who were allegedly killed in the 15th century by Ottoman forces for refusing to renounce Christianity

VATICAN CITY – In his first canonization ceremony since he was elected a pontiff, Pope Francis on Sunday, May 12, proclaimed as saints hundreds of Italians, who were allegedly killed for refusing to convert to Islam.

“The Church proposes for our veneration a host of martyrs, who were called together to the supreme witness to the Gospel,” Pope Francis said in his homily cited by the Vatican Radio.

The pontiff canonized more than 800 Italians, who were allegedly killed in the 15th century during the Ottoman conquest for refusing to renounce Christianity.

Their elevation was decided by Francis’ predecessor Benedict XVI, who resigned in February for health reasons.

“The more than 800 Martyrs of Otranto, when faced with the choice of renouncing Christ or death, remained faithful to the Gospel,” the pontiff said.

“It is precisely their faith that gave them the strength to remain faithful.”

Sunday’s canonization is the largest number of Catholics to be elevated to sainthood at once in the history of the Catholic Church.

The names of the new saints were not revealed, except for Antonio Primaldo, who led the fighting against Ottoman forces in 1480.

A booklet handed out to participants said the "sacrifice" of the Otranto Martyrs "must be placed within the historical context of the wars that determined relations between Europe and the Ottoman Empire for a long period of time".

Christians believe that more than 800 Italians were killed by Ottoman forces during their conquest of the southern Italian city of Otranto in 1480.

They say that residents fought back in a week-long siege imposed on the city by the Ottoman forces.

When the city fell to the Ottoman forces, more than 800 kept their resistance, locking themselves up into the town’s Cathedral.

They were later captured by Ottoman forces and allegedly killed for refusing to renounce Christianity.

New Crisis

The pope also said that Christians were still being persecuted in different areas around the world.

“As we venerate the martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain those many Christians who, in these times and in many parts of the world, right now, still suffer violence, and give them the courage and fidelity to respond to evil with good.”

He did not mention any countries, but the Vatican has expressed deep concern recently about the fate of Christians in parts of the Middle East, including Coptic Christians in Egypt.

The pope’s canonization is expected to raise anger among Muslims over linking Islam to violence.

In 2006, former pope Benedict XVI quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor that everything Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) brought was evil and inhuman.

Benedict had repeatedly said the words did not reflect his personal views but stopped short of a clear apology to Muslims.

The pontiff’s remarks had strained relations between Muslims and the Vatican and prompted Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, to halt dialogue with the Church.

Relations hit new ebb after the pope said Christians in the Middle East were facing persecution following a church attack in Egypt.


'The pontiff’s remarks had strained relations between Muslims and the Vatican...'  So there must be preconditions on what to say when having a dialogue with Muslims.  

And can one image why that 'Relations hit new ebb after the pope said Christians in the Middle East were facing persecution following a church attack in Egypt.'

“There are rumours that the Islamic countries have complained a lot about this canonization” 

Why of course, Muslims don't like any reminders to be made of their atrocities.  Its the same with Kashmir, Armenia, Moghul India, Post-partition Pakistan, Turkey, etc, etc, etc.

(Vatican Radio) At Mass for the Seventh Sunday of Easter, [12 May 2013] Pope Francis canonized 800 Martyrs from the Italian city of Otranto, along with two Latin American religious Foundresses, Mother Laura Montoya e Upegui – the first Colombian saint – and Mother Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, from Mexico.

Text from page 
of the Vatican Radio website 

Below is a Vatican Radio translation of his homily which he delivered partly in Italian and partly in Spanish.


Dear brothers and sisters!

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 savour.

The Acts of the Apostles, when they speak of the Deacon, Stephen, the first martyr, insist on telling us that he was a man “full of the Holy Spirit (6:5, 7:55).” What does this mean? It means that he was full of the love of God, that his whole person, his whole life was animated by the Spirit of the risen Christ, so as to follow Jesus with total fidelity, even unto to the gift of self.

Today the Church proposes for our veneration a host of martyrs, who were called together to the supreme witness to the Gospel in 1480. About eight hundred people, [who], having survived the siege and invasion of Otranto, were beheaded near that city. They refused to renounce their faith and died confessing the risen Christ. Where did they find the strength to remain faithful? Precisely in faith, which allows us to see beyond the limits of our human eyes, beyond the boundaries of earthly life, to contemplate “the heavens opened” – as St. Stephen said – and the living Christ at the right hand of the Father. Dear friends, let us conserve the faith [that] we have received and that is our true treasure, let us renew our fidelity to the Lord, even in the midst of obstacles and misunderstandings; God will never allow us to want [for] strength and serenity. As we venerate the martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain those many Christians who, in these times and in many parts of the world, right now, still suffer violence, and give them the courage and fidelity to respond to evil with good.

The second idea can be drawn from the words of Jesus that we heard in the Gospel: “I pray for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may be one, as You, Father, are in me and I in thee, that they also may be in us. (Jn 17:20)” Saint Laura Montoya was an instrument of evangelization, first as teacher and then as the spiritual mother of the indigenous peoples, in whom she infused hope, welcoming them with the love [she] learned from God, and bringing them to him with pedagogical efficacy that respected, and was not opposed to, their own culture. In her work of evangelization, Mother Laura became, in the words of St. Paul, truly everything to everyone, (cf. 1 Cor 9:22). Even today her spiritual daughters live and bring the Gospel to the most remote and needy places, as a kind of vanguard of the Church.

This first saint born on the beautiful Colombian soil, teaches us to be generous [together] with God, not to live the faith alone - as if we could live our faith in isolation - but to communicate, to radiate the joy of the Gospel by word and witness of life in every place we find ourselves. She teaches us to see the face of Jesus reflected in the other, to overcome indifference and individualism, welcoming everyone without prejudice or constraints, with love, giving the best of ourselves and above all, sharing with them the most valuable thing we have, which is not our works or our organizations, no: the most valuable thing we have is Christ and his Gospel.

Finally, a third thought. In today’s Gospel, Jesus prays to the Father with these words: “I have made known thy name to them and will make it known: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (Jn 17:26)” The martyrs’ faithfulness even unto death, the proclamation of the Gospel are rooted in the love of God that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), and in the witness we must bear to this love in our daily lives. St. Maria Guadalupe García Zavala knew this well. Giving up a comfortable life – how much damage does the comfortable life, life of comfort, do? The gentrification of the heart paralyzes us – and [she], giving up a comfortable life to follow the call of Jesus, taught people to love poverty, in order the more to love the poor and the sick. Mother Lupita knelt on the floor of the hospital before the sick, before the abandoned, to serve them with tenderness and compassion. This is what it means to touch the flesh of Christ. The poor, the abandoned, the sick, the marginalized are the flesh of Christ. And Mother Lupita touched the flesh of Christ and taught us this conduct: [to be] unabashed,[to be] unafraid, [to be] not loathe to touch the flesh of Christ. Mother Lupita understood what it means “to touch the flesh of Christ.” Today her spiritual daughters also seek to reflect the love of God in works of charity, without sparing sacrifices, and [while] facing with meekness, with apostolic constancy (hypomone), any obstacle.

This new Mexican saint invites us to love as Jesus loved us, and this leads one not to retreat into oneself, into one’s own problems, into one’s own ideas, into one’s own interests in this little world that has done us so much damage, but to get up and go to meet those who need care, understanding and support, to bring the warm closeness of God’s love through gestures of delicacy and sincere affection and love.

Fidelity to Christ and his Gospel, in order to proclaim it in word and deed, bearing witness to God’s love with our love, with our charity toward all: the saints proclaimed today offer shining examples and teachings of these. They also pose questions to our Christian life: how am I faithful to Christ? Let us take this question with us to consider during the day: how am I faithful to Christ? I am able to “show” my faith with respect, but also with courage? Am I attentive to others, do I recognize when someone is in need, do I see in everyone a brother and a sister to love? Let us ask that, by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the new saints, the Lord might fill our lives with the joy of His love. So be it.

Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website 


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Muslim Terrorism Count

Thousands of Deadly Islamic Terror Attacks Since 9/11

Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom from Voter Importation
Immigration is allowed - except where that changes the political demography (this is electoral fraud)
4. SP Freedom from Debt
The Central Bank is allowed to create debt - except where that debt burden can pass across a generation (25 years).

An additional Freedom from Religion is deducible if the law is applied equally to everyone:

  • Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

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