Martyrs of Otranto Italy and Today’s Martyrs in Muslim Countries

Yesterday at a retreat, some men were watching a Youtube video on a christian being burn to death by muslims.  I was very busy hearing confessions, so I only saw a bit and it was with a man sitting on the ground and his feet being burnt in a fire. Today I read that the Salesians from the Ivory Coast in Africa deny that any christians have been burned to death in any of their territory.

Never the less there are catholics and christians being bombed and killed in the muslim countries.  In 2012, in Nigeria alone, 10 churches were bombed by muslims.  On May 5th (this month) in Arusha, Tanzania, 3 people were killed and 60 injured at an opening of a new catholic church.  Let us pray for the 31 catholics who are still in the hospital today from this bombing.

Pope Francis canonized 813 Italians who died at the hands of muslims in 1480 in Otranto Italy.   This history is very interesting.  27 years earlier, on May 29, 1453, Constantinople had fallen to the muslims.  Many Orthodox were in the Hagia Sophia praying for a miracle to happen when the muslims entered.  The infants and elderly were brutally murdered.  Men were made slaves and the women and girls were taken by the soldiers or carried off to be slaves.otranto

So now, the goal of the muslims was to conquer Rome and reunite the Roman Empire under the muslim religion.  The different kings and political leaders where warned and they decline to do anything.  The Venetians went so far as to make treaties with the muslims and pay them to be able to continue their commerce.  They would not help in anyway to stop the onslaught of the muslims.

On July 29, 1480, the muslims, led by Pasha Ahmet, arrived in southern Italy.  Their plan was to land at Brindisi, but the weather didn’t permit it, so they landed at the city of Otranto.  With very few soldiers and men, they kept the muslims from capturing them for 2 weeks.  Finally a breach was made in the wall and they killed everyone that they came across.
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 They arrived at the cathedral of Otranto full of people praying.  They ordered the Archbishop Stephano Agricoli and bishop Stefano Pendinelli to take off their crucifixes and convert to Islam.  When they refused, the archbishop had his head cut off and the other bishop and the Count of the city were slowly sawed in half.  They stripped the cathedral of all its catholic furnishing and made it into stable, as was their custom.

Just as what happened in Constantinople, the men over 50 were slaughtered.  Men, women and children were killed or sent to Albania to be slaves.

The Pasha then had 810 men brought to him.  They were given the choice of converting or death. They even had a apostate priest Giovanni preach to them to become muslims.  If they did, they would be honored and given many things.  A tailor named Antonio Primaldi Pezzulla came forward and spoke for the other men.  He said he was ready to die a 1000 times over for Jesus Christ.  He told the men that they had fought for their country, but now they were going to fight to save their souls.  Jesus had died for them, why could they not die for Jesus.  All the men together screamed out that they would die for

The next morning they were led out to the hill of Minerva.  The muslims chose Antonio to die first.  He laid his head on the stone and they chopped off his head.  The butcher pushed his body aside, but it stood up without a head.  Then they could not push it over.  The butcher then converted and died with the other men.  Only when all the men had died for Jesus and their catholic faith, did Antonio’s body collapsed over.

These two weeks of struggle gave the king of Naples time to get ready and arrive.  These martyrs saved Italy from being captured by the muslims.
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 My grandparents are from Italy and I say I would probably be muslim now if it had not been for this battle and Lepanto.

It is so wonderful to love Jesus so much that we are willing to suffer for being traditional catholics.