In 1480 Antonio Primado and 799 other martyrs of Otranto save Rome and all of Italy.
After the failure of the Crusades, on May 29, 1453, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople founded by Constine fell to an army of 250,000 Ottoman Turks under the command of the 21 year old Sultan, Mehmet II. Mehmet then announced his intention to invade Italy, capture Rome, and bring back together the two halves of the Roman Empire under Islam. His intentions were also to destroy Catholicism and use St. Peter’s Basilica a a stable for their horses
Since 1432, Venice had battled the Ottoman Empire for dominance of the eastern Mediterranean and Adriatic seas. In 1479 Mehmet signed a treaty with “Catholic” Venice to end the hostilities between them. They then went on to attacked Rhodes and on to begin taking Italy without the Catholic state of Venice to impede them.
The Ottomans set off with 90 galleys, 15 heavily armed galleys and 48 lighter galleys and 18,000 soldiers. There point of entry was to be Brindisi. The winds forced them to land at Roca near the city of Otranto. This area was Neapolitan/Aragonese, and under the control of the united kingdoms of Naples and Aragon.
For two weeks the people of Otranto defended the city by boiling oil and water and pouring it down upon the turks. Others threw rocks or what ever they had to keep them from scaling the walls. On August 12 the Ottomans breached a part of the city’s wall. They entered and slaughtered the exhausted citizens.
As what happened in Constantinople, they went to the Cathedral and found it full of people praying with the Archbishop Stefano Agricoli, Bishop Stephen Pendinelli, and Count Largo. They were ordered to throw away their crucifixes, abandon their Catholic faith and convert to Islam. The archbishop had his head was cut off, Bishop Pendinelli and Count Largo were also put to death by being slowly sawed in half. Then the priests were murdered, the cathedral was stripped of all Catholic symbols and then turned into a stable for their horses.
The same massacre took place that always took place when the muslims conquer. Men over the age of 50 were slaughtered and the women and children under the age of 15 were either killed or taken as slaves. Around 12,000 people were killed and 5000 forced into slavery.
The next day, Pasha Ahmet ordered the men of Otranto, 800 men of Otronto to be brought before him. The Pasha told an Italian priest who had denied the Catholic faith and become muslim, Giovanni to tell these men to abandon their Catholic faith. If they did they would be richly rewarded. They were given a day to decide.
On August 14th. we read in the “Story of the war of Otranto”, Giovanni Michele Laggetto what took place.
“And turning to the Christians, Antonio Primaldo spoke these words: ‘My brothers, until today we have fought in defense of our homeland, to save our lives, and for our earthly governors; now it is time for us to fight to save our souls for our Lord. And since he died on the cross for us, it is fitting that we should die for him, remaining firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we will earn eternal life and the glory of martyrdom.’ At these words, all began to shout with one voice and with great fervor that they wanted to die a thousand times, by any sort of death, rather than renounce Christ.”
“All of them repeated their profession of the faith and the generous response they had given at first, so the tyrant commanded that the decapitation should proceed, and, before the others, the head of the elderly Primaldo should be cut off. Primaldo was hateful to him, because he never stopped acting as an apostle toward his fellows. And before placing his head upon the stone, he told his companions that he saw heaven opened and the comforting angels; that they should be strong in the faith and look to heaven, already open to receive them. He bowed his head and it was cut off, but his corpse stood back up on its feet, and despite the efforts of the butchers, it remained erect and unmoving, until all were decapitated. The marvelous and astonishing event would have been a lesson of salvation for those infidels, if they had not been rebels against the light that enlightens every man who lives in the world. Only one of the butchers, named Berlabei, believed courageously in the miracle and, declaring himself a Christian in a loud voice, was condemned to be impaled.”
In those two weeks of heroic defending Otronto, the citizens were able to give the king of Naples time to begin to come to the defense of Italy (and all of Europe). The winter set in and the muslims retreated. The death of these 800 heroes, fishermen, craftsmen, shepherd and farmers saved Europe. They were willing to die than to reject Jesus Christ.
This all leads up to St. Pope Pius V getting Don Juan of Austria to lead the Catholic league against the Ottoman Fleet to victory by the intercession of Our Lady of Victory Oct. 7, 1571.
The original author of this blog passed away in July of 2016. RIP Father Carota.