8 Newly Beatified Include Slovak Martyrs of Communism

2 Women and 6 Men Are Signs of Love of God, Pope Says

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II beatified two women and six men today, presenting them as examples of life to a world gripped by fear and violence.



They are "for the Church and the world an eloquent sign of the love of God, primary source and ultimate end of all the living," the Holy Father told 25,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square.

Most of the faithful attending the beatification were from the countries of the new blessed: Italy, Spain and Slovakia.

Among the new blessed are two martyrs of the Communist persecution in the Slovak republic: Archbishop Pavol Peter Gojdic (1888-1960), apostolic administrator of Mukacevo, and Father Metod Dominik Trcka (1886-1959).

The Greek-Catholic community of Slovakia, headed by Archbishop Gojdic, was forced to become part of the Orthodox Church in 1948 when the Communists came to power.

On April 28, 1950, the regime denied the Catholic Church the right to exist, and Archbishop Gojdic was tried for high treason and given a life sentence.

The archbishop died in prison in 1960. Father Trcka also experienced the slow martyrdom of prison, having been accused by the regime of collaborating with the archbishop.

"United in generous and courageous service to the Greek-Catholic Church in Slovakia, they experienced the same sufferings because of fidelity to the Gospel and Peter´s Successor, and now they share the same crown of glory," the Holy Father said during the homily. On hand for the beatification was Slovak President Rudolf Schuster.

The other men honored today are Italian Giovanni Antonio Farina (1803-1888), bishop and founder of the Religious Teachers of St. Dorothy; Portuguese Bishop Bartolomeu Fernandes dos Martires (1514-1590), a Dominican; Italian Luigi Tezza (1814-1923), founder of the Daughters of St. Camillus; and Italian Father Paolo Manna (1972-1952) of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions.

The new women blessed are Italian Gaetana Sterni (1827-1889), founder of the Sisters of the Divine Will; and Spaniard Maria Pilar Izquierdo Albero (1906-1945), founder of the Missionary Work of Jesus and Mary.

Today, the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, Pope Karol Wojtyla celebrated his feast day. Popes, who do not celebrate their birthdays publicly, prefer to celebrate the feast of the saints after whom they are named. At the end of Mass, the Holy Father thanked all those who sent him congratulatory messages for the occasion.

John Paul II has beatified 1,282 people during his 23-year pontificate. The lives of the newest blessed, he said, "proclaim the news of salvation offered by God, in Christ, to all men."

"Let us welcome their witness, serving God in a ´laudable and worthy manner,´ so that we will be able to journey without obstacles toward the promised goods," the Holy Father said.