Pope Francis: Many Christians still suffer violence today. Today we canonize the 800 who died in Otranto, killed by Muslims in 1480
Tens of thousands of people gathered starting in the early hours of the morning in St. Peter’s Square where the Pope canonized his first saints: the 800 Martyrs of Otranto and two Colombian and Mexican nuns. “Today” said the Pope “the Church canonizes a host of martyrs, who were called together in supreme witness to the Gospel in 1480.” On the facade of the basilica, as is tradition, the drapes were hung with effigies of the new saints. “About eight hundred people” the Pope said “stopped the invasion of the Ottomans and were beheaded near that town.”
Papa Francesco “inherits” the canonization of these saints which was proposed by Pope Benedict XVI on February 11 and officially announced on May 12. In addition to the 800 martyrs of Otranto, there were two nuns who founded religious orders: the Colombian Laura Montoya y Upegui and the Mexican María Guadalupe Garcia Zabala.
Today Francis Pope recalled the sacrifice of the martyrs of Otranto, “where did they find the strength to remain faithful? Just in faith, beyond the boundaries of earthly life, they contemplated the heavens and Christ at the right hand of the Father.” The 800 Martyrs of Otranto saved Italy and its Catholic identity allowing the country to remain Christian,” says Cardinal Amato explaining that this event helped to stop Muslim expansion in Europe, even before the battle of Lepanto (1571) and before the siege Vienna (1683).