St Berard and Companions; St Fursey; St Marcellus I
by americancatholic.org | Source: americancatholic.org
St Berard and Companions
the gospel is often dangerous work. Leaving one's homeland and adjusting to new cultures,
governments and languages is difficult enough; but martyrdom caps all the other
In 1219 with the blessing of St. Francis, Berard left Italy with Peter, Adjute,
Accurs, Odo and Vitalis to preach in Morocco. En route in Spain Vitalis became sick and commanded
the other friars to continue their mission without him.
They tried preaching in Seville, then in Muslim hands, but
made no converts. They went on to Morocco where they preached in the marketplace. The friars were
immediately apprehended and ordered to leave the country; they refused. When they began preaching
again, an exasperated sultan ordered them executed. After enduring severe beatings and declining
various bribes to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, the friars were beheaded by the sultan
himself on January 16, 1220.
These were the first Franciscan martyrs. When Francis heard of their deaths, he exclaimed,
"Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor!" Their relics were brought to Portugal where
they prompted a young Augustinian canon to join the Franciscans and set off for Morocco the next
year. That young man was Anthony of Padua. These five martyrs were canonized in 1481.
Other Saints of the day:
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