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~ “Martyrs of Charity” ~

    A broadening of the classical meaning of martyrdom occurred when Pope John Paul II canonized St. Maksymilian Kolbe as a martyr of charity in October 1982. Eleven years earlier, Pope Paul VI beatified Kolbe in 1971 as a confessor, not a martyr. As the canonization of the Polish Franciscan Conventual friar neared, Pope John Paul approved the creation of a special commission of cardinals and theologians (headed by future pope Joseph Ratzinger) who would determine whether or not he could be canonized as a martyr: “It will be up to theologians to justify on the theoretical plane an option perhaps not thoroughly approved of in the schools. I wish theology should as soon as possible give us an exact profile of the ‘modern martyr,’ since I am persuaded it represents a source of energy for the Christian faithful to be able informedly and consistently to contemplate the modern ‘reality of martyrdom.’” (L’Osservatore Romano, Italian ed., 07 October 1982, p. 2) However, the commission voted that Kolbe’s heroic self-offering in Auschwitz did not meet the theological and canonical criteria for martyrdom.  In spite of this this, John Paul overruled the findings of the commission on the very day of the canonization: “In virtue of my apostolic authority, I have decreed that Maximilian Maria Kolbe, who, after his beatification was venerated as a confessor, shall henceforth be venerated also as a martyr.”(Homily at the canonization Mass, L’Osservatore Romano, 10 October 1982)

     Although it was not an officially acknowledged category hitherto, the phraseology “martyr of charity” can be traced to the Early Church. The earliest models for such a death were an unknown number of Christians from the Church of Alexandria who, according to Eusebius, died ministering to plague victims in 261 c.e.: “Heedless of the danger, (most of our Christian brothers and sisters) took charge of the sick, attending to their every need and ministering to them in Christ, and with them departed this life serenely happy; for they were infected by others with the disease, drawing on themselves the sickness of their neighbors and cheerfully accepting their pains. Many, in nursing and curing others,  transferred their  death to themselves and died in their stead. . . . The best of our brothers and sisters lost their lives in this manner, a number of presbyters, deacons, and lay people winning high commendation, so that death in this form, the result of great piety and strong faith, seems in every way the equal of martyrdom.” (Historia Ecclesiastica, v. 7.22) But even if the “the religious faith of the pious is wont to honor them as martyrs ” (Martyrologium Romanum, 28 February), Pope Innocent X (reigned, 1644-55) forbade any recognition of these selfless Christians as true martyrs.

     While several theologians and canonists (among them postulators) today advocate the acceptance of the category “martyr of charity”, no other model of holiness has been beatified/canonized as such after St. Maksymilian Kolbe. Nonetheless, the category is presented here to honor the memory of women and men of faith who voluntarily risked and lost their lives during profoundly dangerous circumstances - plagues, shipwrecks, etc. - to ensure that others would live in imitation of the Good Shepherd who willingly laid down His life for the sheep. (Jn. 10:11)

Thomas [Roussel Davids] Byles

priest of the diocese of Brentwood

born: 26 February 1870 in Leeds, Yorkshire, 

                England (United Kingdom)

Benedikt Peruschitz (Joseph)

professed priest, Benedictines (Bavarian Congregation)

born: 21 March 1871 in Straßlach-Dingharting, Munich (Germany)

Juozapas Montvila

priest of the diocese of Vilkaviškis

born: 03 January 1885 in Gudinė, Marijampole (Lithuania)

died: 15 April 1912 aboard the RMS Titanic, at the North Atlantic Ocean

Dositea Andrés Marín

professed religious, Servants of Mary, Ministers of the Sick

born: 07 May 1863 in Cheste, Valencia (Spain)

died: 30 September 1918 in Zamora (Spain)

María del Carmen Serantes Portas (María Javier)

professed religious, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady of Calais

born: 23 March 1858 in San Martiño de Sobrán,

                Vilagarcía de Arousa, Pontevedra (Spain)

EMILIA DE OLIVEIRA (GUILLERMINA)

professed religious, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady of Calais

born: 03 February 1882 in Oliveira de Azeméis, Aveiro (Portugal)

died: 13 November 1919 in Totoras, Iriondo, Santa Fe (Argentina)

PAOLO PONZI

professed priest, Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus

born: 13 July 1930 in Lucca (Italy)

MARIO POZZA

professed priest, Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus

born: 21 December 1935 in Lusiana, Padua (Italy)

died: 03 June 1972 in Kigumba, Kiryandongo (Uganda)

Lucía Peñacoba Núñez

professed religious, Religious Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception

born: in Santibáñez del Val, Burgos (Spain)

died: 04 January 1980 in Tumaco, Nariño (Colombia)

Henrica Berentsen (Antoinette)

professed religious, Sisters of Saint Mary Magdalen Postel

born: 30 March 1935 in Beltrum, Eibergenin (Netherlands)

REMEDIOS Chuidian (Mary Consuelo)

professed religious, Religious of the Good Shepherd

born: 04 May 1937 in Manila (Philippines)

Lourdes Conti (Mary Concepcion)

professed religious, Religious of the Good Shepherd

born: 05 February 1937 in Bauan, Batangas (Philippines)

Amparo Gilbuena

professed religious, Missionary Sisters of Mary

born: in (Philippines)

Virginia Gonzaga (Mary Virginia)

professed religious, Religious of the Good Shepherd

born: 09 June 1941 in Bacolod, Negros Occidental (Philippines)

Lucinda Loreto (Mary Catherine)

professed religious, Religious of the Good Shepherd

born: 30 April 1944 in Pasig, Metro Manila (Philippines)

Josephine Medrano

professed religious, Daughters of Mary of the Assumption

born: in (Philippines)

Jan SIMON WESTENDORP

professed priest, Carmelites of the Ancient Observance

born: 19 November 1936 in Hengevelde, Hof van Twente (Netherlands)

INOCENCIO IPONG

layperson of the archdiocese of Cebu; married

born: 28 December 1945 in Makilala, North Cotabato (Philippines)

died: 21 November 1983 aboard the M/V Cassandra,

                off Camiguin (Philippines)

Eugénie Kabila Musafiri 

professed religious, Sisters of Saint Joseph of Turin

born: in (Democratic Republic of Congo)

died: 13 May 1995 in Kikwit, Kwilu (Democratic Republic of Congo)

PIERINA ASIENZO

professed religious, Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate

born: 1955 in (Uganda)

died: 05 November 2000 in Gulu (Uganda)

Patrick Nshamdze

professed religious, Hospitaller Brothers of Saint John of God

born: 22 May 1962 in Jakari, Bui (Cameroon)

died: 02 August 2014 in Monrovia (Liberia)

Chantal Pascaline Mutwameme Nanebe

professed religious, Religious Missionaries of the Immaculate Conception

born: 06 April 1966 in Kikwit (Democratic Republic of Congo)

died: 09 August 2014 in Monrovia (Liberia)

George Combey Quaye

professed religious, Hospitaller Brothers of Saint John of God

born: 22 April 1967 in Breman Asikuma, Asikuma/Odoben/Brakwa (Ghana)

died: 11 August 2014 in Monrovia (Liberia)

MIGUEL PAJARES MARTÍN

professed priest, Hospitaller Brothers of Saint John of God

born: 07 February 1939 in La Iglesuela, Toledo (Spain)

died: 12 August 2014 in Monrovia (Liberia)

Manuel García Viejo

professed religious, Hospitaller Brothers of Saint John of God

born: 10 October 1944 in Folgoso de la Ribera, León (Spain)

died: 25 September 2014 in Madrid (Spain)


 

 


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Last modified: 09/11/18