May 12, 2013 / 01:30 pm
Pope Francis on Sunday canonized hundreds of fifteenth century Italian martyrs who died rather than renounce their Christian faith.
“The martyrs’ faithfulness even unto death and the proclamation of the Gospel are rooted in the love of God that has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” said Pope Francis during the May 12 canonization Mass at the Vatican.
He saw in their lives an inspiration for victims of persecution today.
“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 Pope said.
In 1480, Turkish invaders beheaded Antonio Primaldo and his hundreds of companions in the far southeastern Italian town of Otranto after they refused to give up their faith.
Pope Francis compared Antonio Primaldo to the first Christian martyr, Saint Stephen, who is described in the Acts of the Apostles as “a man full of the Holy Spirit.”
“This means 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,” he said.
He said St. Antonio Primaldo and companions found their strength “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 and the living Christ at the right hand of the Father.” …
Go here for the rest of the story, which includes the canonization of two additional saints.