And refusing to convert to Islam. via Pope Canonizes Otranto Christian Martyrs Slayed by Muslim Turks.
Pope Benedetto XVI announced that he will leave his ministry at 8pm on February 28.
He made this announcement during a consistory for the canonization of the martyrs of Otranto beheaded one by one by the Ottoman Turks.
Antonio Primaldo and his companions, 800 Christians, were murdered for hatred of their faith by Muslims during the Turkish siege of the town of Otranto, in South-East Italy, on August 13, 1480.
Blessed Antonio was a tailor in the city of Otranto, Italy, in the 1400s. In 1480 the city was invaded by Turkish Moslems, their 150 ships and 18,000 troops greatly outnumbering the 6,000 inhabitants of the town. The conquerors executed the elderly bishop, Archbishop Stephen Pendinelli, and took the women and children into slavery. They rounded up all the men between the ages of fifteen and fifty—some 800 men in all. The Ottoman captors threatened to kill all the men, but promised to grant their lives and the freedom of their women and children if the men would simply renounce Christ and become Muslim.
Blessed Antonio remained firm, and encouraged his fellow citizens to stand strong in their faith. “My brothers,” he said, “until today we have fought in defense of our homeland, to save our lives, and for our earthly governors. Now it is time for us to fight to save our souls for the Lord. And since he died on the cross for us, it is fitting that we should die for him, remaining firm and constant in the faith, and with this earthly death we will earn eternal life and the glory of martyrdom.”
Blessed Antonio was the first to be beheaded, followed by 799 others. Tradition holds that Blessed Antonio’s headless body remained standing and could not be knocked down by the Turkish soldiers. Only when the last of the men was slain did his body collapse of its own accord. One of the Muslims, seeing this miracle, was converted and professed his faith in Christianity—after which he was immediately impaled upon a scimitar by his own comrades-in-arms.
From our previous post on the The Skull Cathedral of Otranto (pics).
On August 12, 800 citizens were taken to the hill of Minerva, now called the Hill of the Martyrs, and beheaded because they refused to renounce their Catholic faith. Their remains were taken to the cathedral and the skulls preserved in the altar piece as a prominent reminder of these 800 martyrs.
Image: Andreas C.
The Ottoman Wars were motivated by territory gains and eradicating the Christian faith while spreading the Muslim one.
There’s a similar remnant of Muslim jihad in Serbia. See it in our post, Chele Kula: Tower of Skulls.