Martyrs of Albania
|Priest; Bishop; Layperson; Seminarian; Martyrs|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Beatified||5 November 2016, Shkodër Cathedral, Shkodër, Albania by Cardinal Angelo Amato|
The Blessed Martyrs of Albania were a collective group of 38 individuals killed during the Communist regime in Albania from 1945 until 1974 (all but five between 1945 and 1950). All were born at various times between 1874 and 1935; the group included Albanians and Italians as well as one German.Each of these individuals, apart for four, were part of the religious life as either priests or religious and served as either missionaries or educators with a great deal spending their educational formation in Italian and Austrian cities.
Beatification is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name. Beati is the plural form, referring to those who have undergone the process of beatification.
Albania, officially the Republic of Albania, is a country in Southeast Europe on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea within the Mediterranean Sea. It shares land borders with Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, Greece to the south and maritime borders with Greece, Montenegro and Italy to the west.
The beatification cause opened in 2002 and the group were beatified on 5 November 2016.
The 38 individuals were all murdered during the Communist regime between the end of World War II in 1945 until 1974 (mostly between 1945 and 1950. They included 2 bishops as well as 21 diocesan priests and 7 from the Order of Friars Minor. There were also 3 Jesuits and 1 seminarian killed in addition to 4 of the general faithful.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Order of Friars Minor is a mendicant Catholic religious order, founded in 1209 by Francis of Assisi. The order adheres to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of the founder and of his main associates and followers, such as Clare of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, and Elizabeth of Hungary, among many others. The Order of Friars Minor is the largest of the contemporary First Orders within the Franciscan movement.
There was one single woman killed – she was an aspirant (though no member) to the religious life of the Franciscan Sisters of the Stigmata.
Giovanni Fausti was born in Brescia as the first of twelve children to Antonio Fausti and Maria Sigolini.At the age of ten he began his ecclesiastical studies and was a classmate of Giovanni Battista Montini – the future Pope Paul VI. He studied at the Pontifical Lombard College in Rome where he was later ordained as a priest on 9 July 1922; he entered the Society of Jesus on 30 October 1924. He was drafted into the armed forces in 1917 and in 1920 attended a course at Modena for this before being sent to service in Rome; he was discharged as a lieutenant in 1920 and resumed his studies. He graduated in theological studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University. In 1923 he served as a philosophical studies educator in Brescia. From 1929 to 1932 he was a professor in Albania and wrote on ecumenism from 1931 to 1933 in the magazine "La Civilta Cattolica".
Brescia is a city and comune in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. It is situated at the foot of the Alps, a few kilometres from the lakes Garda and Iseo. With a population of more than 200,000, it is the second largest city in the region and the fourth of northwest Italy. The urban area of Brescia extends beyond the administrative city limits and has a population of 672,822, while over 1.5 million people live in its metropolitan area. The city is the administrative capital of the Province of Brescia, one of the largest in Italy, with over 1,200,000 inhabitants.
Pope Paul VI was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 21 June 1963 to his death in 1978. Succeeding John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms, and fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements. Montini served in the Holy See's Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1954. While in the Secretariat of State, Montini and Domenico Tardini were considered as the closest and most influential advisors of Pius XII, who in 1954 named him Archbishop of Milan, the largest Italian diocese. Montini later became the Secretary of the Italian Bishops' Conference. John XXIII elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 1958, and after the death of John XXIII, Montini was considered one of his most likely successors.
Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
In Albania he coordinated careful dialogue with the Islam religion and was later recalled to Mantua in 1932 where he contracted tuberculosis. Fausti underwent special health treatments in Switzerland from August 1933 to 1936 as well as in northern Italian cities before making his profession on 2 February 1936. He returned to Albania to continue his work in 1942 and in Tirana in World War II suffered a broken collarbone due to a Nazi bullet that struck him. Fausti was arrested on 31 December 1945 and was held in confinement for two months where he was tortured; he was sentenced on 22 February 1946. Fausti was shot dead at 6:00am on 4 March 1946.
Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah), and that Muhammad is a messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.9 billion followers or 24.4% of the world's population, commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided mankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, believed to be the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of the province of the same name.
Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis. About 10% of latent infections progress to active disease which, if left untreated, kills about half of those affected. The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing mucus, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. It was historically called "consumption" due to the weight loss. Infection of other organs can cause a wide range of symptoms.
Daniel Dajani was born in late 1906. In 1918 he started his studies for the priesthood and began his novitiate period with the Society of Jesus at Gorizia on 8 July 1926.He underwent his philosophical studied in Chieri from 1931 to 1933 and taught from 1934 to 1935 before returning for theological studies in Chieri from 1937 to 1939 just prior to the start of World War II. He returned to teaching in 1940 and on 2 February 1942 made his solemn profession.
The novitiate, also called the noviciate, is the period of training and preparation that a Christian novice monastic, apostolic, or member of a religious order undergoes prior to taking vows in order to discern whether he or she is called to vowed religious life. It often includes times of intense study, prayer, living in community, studying the vowed life, deepening one's relationship with God, and deepening one's self-awareness. It is a time of creating a new way of being in the world. The novitiate stage in most communities is a two-year period of formation. These years are "Sabbath time" to deepen one's relationship with God, to intensify the living out of the community's mission and charism, and to foster human growth. The novitiate experience for many communities includes a concentrated program of prayer, study, reflection and limited ministerial engagement.
Gorizia, English (obsolete) also "Goritz", is a town and comune in northeastern Italy, in the autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It is located at the foot of the Julian Alps, bordering Slovenia. It is the capital of the Province of Gorizia and a local center of tourism, industry, and commerce. Since 1947, a twin town of Nova Gorica has developed on the other side of the modern-day Italian–Slovenian border. The entire region was subject to territorial dispute between Italy and Yugoslavia after World War II: after the new boundaries were established in 1947 and the old town was left to Italy, Nova Gorica was built on the Yugoslav side. Taken together, the two towns constitute a conurbation, which also includes the Slovenian municipality of Šempeter-Vrtojba. Since May 2011, these three towns have been joined in a common trans-border metropolitan zone, administered by a joint administration board.
Chieri is a town and comune in the Metropolitan City of Turin, Piedmont (Italy), located about 11 kilometres southeast of Turin, 15 km (9 mi) by rail and 13 km (8 mi) by road. It borders the following municipalities: Baldissero Torinese, Pavarolo, Montaldo Torinese, Pino Torinese, Arignano, Andezeno, Pecetto Torinese, Riva presso Chieri, Cambiano, Santena, Poirino.
He was arrested on 31 December 1945 – sent to solitary confinement for two months and tortured – and later sentenced to death on 22 February 1946; he was shot dead at 6:00am on 4 March 1946.
Lek Sirdani was born on 1 March 1891; his brother Marin became a member of the Order of Friars Minor. His parents died sometime during his childhood.An aunt first educated him and an Albanian Muslim then took charge over his education. Sirdani was ordained in 1916 in Austria after having studied there and he soon returned to Albania.
Sirdani delivered a homily on 26 July 1948 alluding to Communist activities in Albania and was arrested on 27 July before being tortured on 29 July and thrown into a large room that was the cesspool of all inmate bathrooms; he died of suffocation there.
Maria Tuci was born in 1928 to Nikoll Mark Tuci and Dila Fusha and attended school that the Franciscan Sisters of the Stigmata managed; she also asked to become part of their order but this never happened.She – in 1946 – began work with her friend Davida Markagjoni as a teacher and she often paid for supplies herself for the benefit of the children under her ward. She often walked six or seven kilometers to get to Mass.
Tucci was arrested on 10 August 1949 and was tortured to the point where she was admitted into the civil hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries just two months later. Her last words were: "I thank God that I die free".Her torture had intensified after she refused to answer her captors' questions.
Luigj Prendushi was born in 1896 and was ordained as a priest in 1921 in Italy; he had departed for that place at age twelve.He returned to Albania in 1921 after his ordination and the ship that carried him sank; he was known at the time for being calm in the face of this trouble. Prendushi was arrested on 5 December 1946 and shot dead in 1947.
Gjon Pantalla was born on 2 June 1887 in Kosovo and entered the Jesuits as a professed religious rather than as a priest as his superiors would have liked him to have become.He spent time in Italy for his education and did his novitiate in Soresina. Pantalla was arrested and tried to escape his captors when he jumped out of a window – he broke his legs and was recaptured and later died of his injuries on 31 October 1947.
Kolë Shllaku – Gjon in religious – was born in 1907. He became part of the Franciscans and was later ordained as a priest in 1931 in Belgium.He made his solemn profession as a Franciscan at the age of fifteen and returned to Albania. He was arrested and sentenced to death by firing squad on 22 February 1946; he was shot to death at 6:00am on 4 March 1946.
Gjon Koda – Serafin in religious – was born on 25 April 1893 in Serbia and became a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor.He was ordained in 1925 and celebrated his first Mass on 30 July 1925. Koda was arrested by the Communist regime and tortured for two weeks.
Lazër Shantoja was born on 2 September 1892.An uncle of his led his life to the extent that Shantoja wanted to become a priest. He spent time in Switzerland in exile during the government of Zog I of Albania and returned after a good period of fifteen years. The Jesuits oversaw his education and he continued his studies in Innsbruck in Austria where he learned German; he was ordained as a priest in 1920 and could play the piano.
The authorities broke his arms and legs during his torture and he had to drag himself on his elbows and knees in order to move since the damage was too great; he was killed in 1945 with a gunshot to the neck.
Josif Mihali was born on 23 September 1912 as part of the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church and he was dispatched to Grottaferrata and Rome.He studied for the priesthood in Rome and celebrated the Divine Liturgy – or first Mass – on 1 December 1935 at the church of Saint Athanasius in Rome. Mihali returned to Albania in 1936.
Mihali was arrested in 1945 and sentenced to a decade of hard labor in the marshes. On 26 October 1948 – while working – he collapsed from tiredness and the guards forced other workers to bury him alive; he died of suffocation.
Dedë Nikacj – Ciprian in religious – was born in 1900 and became part of the Order of Friars Minor. Nikacj was orphaned by age five and educated by the Franciscans; he was sent to study theology in Austria before being ordained as a priest in Rome in 1924. He was arrested on the charge of concealing a weapons cache behind a church altar and was tortured until being shot to death on 11 March 1948.
Pal Prennushi – Mati in religious – was born on 2 October 1881 and received his education from the Franciscans; he served as their provincial father – since becoming one – from 1943 until 1946.He studied in Austria where he was later ordained as a priest in 1904 before the Serbs arrested him in 1911 for political activism – an Albanian Franciscan secured his release even though he had been sentenced to death. Communist authorities arrested him in September 1946 and tortured him for six months.
He was shot to death on 11 March 1948.
The individuals are:
The beatification cause started with the transfer of competent forum to one Albanian diocese on 7 June 2002 before the formal introduction under Pope John Paul II in which the Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued the official "nihil obstat" and titled them all as Servants of God; the diocesan process opened on 10 November 2002 and Cardinal Claudio Hummes closed it on 8 December 2010. The C.C.S validated the process on 9 March 2012 before receiving two volumes that was the Positio in 2015 from the postulation.
Theologians approved the cause on 17 December 2015 as did the C.C.S. on 19 April 2016. Pope Francis confirmed the beatification on 26 April 2016 and Cardinal Angelo Amato presided over the beatification on 5 November 2016 in Albania on the pope's behalf. 10 000 people attended as did five cardinals and the Archbishop of Potenza. The cardinal-designate Ernest Simoni was also present.
The current postulator for this cause is Fra Giovangiuseppe Califano.
Blessed Giovanni Battista Righi was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member from the Order of Friars Minor. He was known for ascetic life and for his preaching and healing abilities.
Blessed Innocenzo da Berzo, born Giovanni Scalvinoni, was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor - or Capuchin branch of the Franciscan Order. Scalvinoni assumed his new religious name upon his profession as a Capuchin friar.
Blessed Johannes Ludovicus Paquay - in religious Valentinus - was a Belgian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member from the Order of Friars Minor. He was a popular confessor and noted preacher while serving in various leadership positions in the house he was stationed in; he was also known for his popular devotion to the Eucharist and the Sacred Heart and promoted these devotions to the faithful and to his conferees alike.
Saint John Joseph of the Cross - born Carlo Gaetano Calosinto - was an Italian priest and a professed member from the Order of Friars Minor who hailed from the island of Ischia. He had a reputation for austerity and for the gift of miracles and was appointed Master of Novices.
Blessed Pacificus da Ceredano - born Pacificus Ramati - was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member from the Order of Friars Minor. Pope Benedict XIV approved his "cultus" and beatified him on 7 July 1745.
Blessed Bernard of Offida - born Domenico Peroni - was an Italian Roman Catholic professed religious from the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin from the Marche area. Peroni lived for the most part in servitude to his fellow friars in various capacities and he was noted for his strong Eucharistic dedication and for his holiness.
Zef Pllumi was an Albanian Franciscan priest and memoirist. After 26 years in communist prisons he wrote the non-fiction works Live to tell, a true story of religious persecution in Albania, also known as the Albanian gulag archipelago, The Great Franciscans, The Book of Memories (1944–1951).
Saint Ignatius of Santhià, born Lorenzo Maurizio Belvisotti, was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor.
Blessed Domenico Mazzarella was an Italian Roman Catholic priest. He was also a professed member of the Franciscan Friars Minor of the Alcantarines and assumed the name of "Modestino of Jesus and Mary". He devoted his life to service to those who were poor and sick and he himself later succumbed to cholera during an epidemic as he tended to the ill.
Blessed Jakub Strzemię was a Polish Roman Catholic archbishop and a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor. He served as the Archbishop of Halicz from 1392 until his death when the archdiocese was incorporated into that of the Archdiocese of Lviv.
Blessed Ladislas of Gielniów was a Polish Roman Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor. He was an observant of the Rule of Saint Francis of Assisi and served his order in various capacities that included both a doorkeeper and as its provincial. He also travelled across Poland to evangelize to the faithful and was a noted preacher.
Blessed Vinçens Prennushi – born Nikollë Prennushi – was an Albanian Roman Catholic professed member from the Order of Friars Minor and he served as the Archbishop of Durrës from 1940 until his death. Prennushi became a noted poet and writer and published several works on national and international matters.
Blessed Baldassare Ravaschieri was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor of the strict observance. Ravaschieri served as a noted preacher and confessor and befriended as contemporaries Blessed Bernardine of Feltre and architect Giovanni Antonio Amadeo.
Blessed Mariano da Roccacasale - born Domenico di Nicolantonio - was an Italian Roman Catholic professed religious from the Order of Friars Minor. He was of peasant stock and entered the order in his twenties as a professed religious rather than as an ordained priest. He was an influence in the decision of Blessed Giuseppe Oddi joining the Franciscans after their 1863 encounter.
Blessed Marco da Montegallo was an Italian Roman Catholic priest from the Order of Friars Minor. He was born to a nobleman and served as a doctor in Ascoli Piceno before he was pressured into marriage in 1451 - the couple annulled their marriage after both entered the religious life. Father Marco is best known for establishing pawnshops for the poor across various Italian cities and for being a preacher of love.
Blessed Juan de Prado was a Spanish Roman Catholic priest and a professed member from the Order of Friars Minor. He served as part of the missions in Muslim Morocco at the request of Pope Urban VIII and bought much solace to the small Christian population there before the ruler had him murdered.
Blessed Melchor Chyliński - in religious Rafał - was a Polish Roman Catholic priest and a professed member from the Order of Friars Minor Conventual. He first served as a soldier but decided to instead become a priest and so entered the Franciscans and made his profession prior to ordination. He also became known for his simplistic preaching and for his generous outreach to the poor through the distribution of clothing and food.
Qerim Sadiku was a Catholic Albanian blessed. He was executed by a firing squad in Shkodër along with clerics Danjel Dajani, Giovanni Fausti, Gjon Shllaku, Mark Çuni and Gjelosh Lulashi. He was accepted as a martyr by the Catholic Church in 2016, part of the Martyrs of Albania.
Blesseds Johannes Laurentius Weiss and his two companions Michele Pio Fasoli and Antonio Francesco Marzorati were German and Italian Roman Catholic priests and missionaries as well as professed members from the Order of Friars Minor. The three were all made missionaries in 1704 in Rome before setting off for Cairo to begin their travel through the Nile River to reach Ethiopia. But the team experienced significant pitfalls: conflicts in Ethiopia slowed them down and forced their return to Cairo though the team succeeded in their second attempt to reach their destination. But anti-religious sentiment started fermenting there under the new monarch who decreed missionaries to be nothing more than heretics leading to the three friars' being stoned.
Franciscanism in Albania was a period of Franciscan Catholicism in the Albanian highlands of Malësia. The origins of Franciscanism in Albania can be traced back to the 13th century who opposed Albanians converting to the Orthodox faith. Franciscanism expanded further in 1638 with the Italian Fra Cherubino, one of the founding fathers of the Franciscan mission in the region. Italian friars, priests and lay brothers from the Holy Congregation of the Propagation of the faith arrived in 1635 to catholicise the region.