Blessed Martyrs of Damascus

Favourable votes approved for Canonization

23 May 2024

On the 23rd May 2024, the Holy Father Pope Francis received in audience Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, and approved the favourable votes of the Ordinary Session of the Cardinals and Bishops Members of the Congregation on the canonization of Blessed Emanuele Ruiz and his Seven Companions of the Order of Friars Minor as well as Blessed Francis Mooti and Raffaele Massabki, Maronite lay faithful, Martyrs in Damascus in 1860.

The martyrdom event concerning the eleven Blessed Martyrs who are candidates for canonization is placed in the context of the persecution against Christians that took place in the city of Damascus on the 9th July, 1860 and which resulted in thousands of victims. That same night, a command of rebels animated by a deep-rooted religious hatred, managed to penetrate through a hidden door indicated by a traitor, into the Franciscan friary of St. Paul: here eight Friars Minor – seven of Spanish nationality and one of Austrian nationality – and three Maronite lay Christians, who were also blood-brothers, were barbarously slaughtered. It was clearly a martyr's death: the eleven victims, in fact, before brutally inflicting the fatal blows, the attackers asked them to renounce the Christian faith and embrace Islam, an invitation that was decisively refused. 

The Blesseds on their way to canonization are:

The revival of the Cause has recently been determined by the observation of their ever-growing fame of martyrdom and the ever-increasing number of signs attributed to the intercession of the eleven Martyrs of Damascus, as well as by the spread of their cult. Associated with this was the hope that their canonization may be a message of dialogue, peace and unity in the Middle East, which is increasingly less serene and increasingly shaken by the winds of war. 

To this end, the Holy Synod of Maronite Bishops in the year 2022 presented Pope Francis with a petition for the canonization of the Blessed Massabki Martyrs, heroic exponents of Maronite lay holiness. 

The Major Superiors of the Order of Friars Minor, Minister General and Custos of the Holy Land, also joined in the petition, asking for the canonization of the entire group of the eleven Martyrs of Damascus, emphasizing the imminence of the Eighth Centenary of the death of St. Francis of Assisi, 1226-2026, who would thus be honoured with the canonization of eight of his worthy sons. 

On the 23rd March, 2023, Pope Francis authorized the special process for the drafting and study of the special Positio super Canonizatione.

Franciscan Saints
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