28 Jan The first five Franciscan martyrs of Morocco
Berard, Otho, Peter, Accursius and Adjutus: the five “true Friars Minor”, as St. Francis of Assisi referred to them. They were the first missionaries sent by Francis to the lands of the Saracens. Leaving Assisi, in 1219 they crossed Coimbra, where they had the opportunity to meet the then Fernando de Bulhões, the future Saint Antônio. The cloister of the Monastery of Santa Cruz witnessed this meeting, whose feast is celebrated on January 16.
Br DOMINGOS DO CASAL MARTINS, ofm Vicar Provincial Friars Minor Portugal “The example of this martyrdom motivated the Franciscan vocation of St. Anthony, who lived here in this convent and certainly knew these 5 friars who passed through here on their way to Morocco. So it is a very important historical event.”
Br FABRIZIO BORDIN Provincial Delegate Friars Minor Conventual “Today the church continues this great missionary call. And we have saints who give a great example, not only the martyr saints of Morocco but also Saint Anthony who left Coimbra and with great enthusiasm not only chose to be a Franciscan but I think he was very insistent, he wanted to be a missionary and give his life. Later, life took a different direction, but the missionary dimension was very present and very strong.”
In Marrakech, the friars were questioned about the Christian faith, arrested, flogged and killed on January 16, 1220. Currently, the Church of Santa Cruz preserves historical objects, such as the chasuble and the bell, which according to tradition belonged to the holy martyrs.
The inauguration of the Jubilee Year took place in the church of Santa Cruz on Sunday 12th. The holy door opens and with it the memory of the courage of the Franciscan proto-martyrs and Saint Anthony. In Coimbra, the bishop of the diocese, Don Virgílio do Nascimento Antunes, presided over the opening of the Holy Year in commemoration of this extraordinary event in the history of the Church.
HE Mgr VIRGILIO DO NASCIMENTO ANTUNES Diocese of Coimbra- Portugal “We believe that the Jubilee, according to the thinking of the Church, is a time of grace, a time of conversion to reconciliation, of acceptance and deepening of one’s faith. A time of evangelization and a time in which, through this very rich history, we can help especially the new generations, children and young people, to understand through history what we are. What we are as Church and people who live in Coimbra and in this country…to understand the present starting from our origins.”
In 1220, the relics of the five missionaries sent by St. Francis of Assisi to North Africa arrived at the Monastery of Santa Cruz. Despite the persecution, the Word of God and the testimony of faith would not be imprisoned.
The faithful enter through the holy door and cross the path of personal conversion. A Vatican decree signed by Pope Francis proclaims the 800th-anniversary jubilee with plenary indulgence for all the days of the Holy Year. A strong moment of appeal to holiness, with the memories of the Christians who are persecuted even today and the need for inter-religious dialogue to build peace.
Source: Christian Media Center
Music: Piano Drama
Time: 2.50 min