CWN - The place of worship was the square in front of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Shkodër. The beatification Holy Mass was led on behalf of Pope Francis by the Prefect of Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, the press service of Mukachevo Greek Catholic Diocese reported.
The solemn beatification ceremony was attended by Archbishop Angelo Massafra of Shkodër-Pult, bishops from Kosovo, Montenegro, Italy, Croatia and many other countries, more than 300 priests and thousands of faithful from all over Albania, Kosovo, of Albanian diaspora, as well as representatives of government and heads of the religious communities of the country.
The newly blessed martyrs include two bishops, among them Archbishop Vincenc Prennushi of Durres that belonged to the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, 32 priests - 7 Friars Minor Franciscans, 3 Jesuit fathers, 1 seminarian and 4 lay people, including a 22-year old girl, Maria Tuzzi, teacher and candidate to the Congregation of the Sisters Stigmatines.
Albania, declaring itself a completely atheistic country, went in for a brutal persecution of all believers, Catholics, Orthodox, and Muslims. Catholics suffered special persecution for their pastoral dynamism and unwavering faith identity.
In September 2014, summing up his visit to Albania, Pope Francis said that when he moved along the road that leads from the airport to the central square of the Albanian capital, he saw posters with portraits of priests who were killed during the communist dictatorship and who are subject to the beatification process. But hundreds of Christian and Muslim clerics should be added, who were killed, subjected to torture, were imprisoned and deported just because they believed in God. During the said period, thousands of churches and mosques were destroyed or turned into warehouses and cinemas, which advanced by Marxist ideology, religious books were destroyed.
“The memory of these tragic events is essential for the future of the people,” the Holy Father said. “The memory of the martyrs who persevered in faith is the key to the fate of Albania, because their blood is not shed in vain, but became seeds, which will bring the fruits of peace and brotherly cooperation. Martyrs have not lost - they are winners. Their heroic testimony shows the omnipotence of the Lord God who always comforts his people, opening new paths and horizons of hope.”
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said that the torture of Bishop Franjo Ginny lasted almost 2 years. Bishop was accused of anticommunist propaganda, after the arrest was subjected to harsh torture, he was subject to food and water deprivation, hung on a tree in the yard of security agency office, beaten with sticks until he lost consciousness and was thrown into a sewer. However, the bishop has continued to stay alive and was further shot together with others.
And in his sermon during the beatification Mass Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints said: “Thanks to God's Providence, the Tree of Cross, which suffered beating during the communist regime, following the example of Christ, crucified and risen, flourished anew in Albania with the new energy. The Church, remembering Christ's words: “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (Jn 15,18-20), revived after the persecution in even greater glory, being also supported by the testimony of her children martyrs.
On April 25, 1993, visiting Albania, St. John Paul II blessed the cornerstone of the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Good Council, the heavenly patron of Albania. The Albanian Church with its bishops, priests and faithful, can be compared to the age oak that was not moved by the winds and storms of history, but remained firmly rooted in the faith of Christ.”
Talking about the attitude towards the inhuman and bloody dictatorship, Cardinal Angelo Amato said that we have to learn the words of Pope Francis: “Do not forget the wounds, but do not seek revenge. Go ahead working with the hope of a great future.”