New martyrs include priests, religious, laity martyred in 20th century

By Laura Ieraci
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of 41 priests, religious and laypeople, who were killed in the 20th century "in hatred of the faith," clearing the way for their beatification.

The pope approved the decrees during an audience June 5 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes.

Among the soon-to-be blesseds are:

— Capuchin Father Federico da Berga and his 25 companions, all Capuchin priests or brothers, who were killed in 1936 by Marxists in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War.

— Father Joseph Thao Tien, a young Laotian priest, along with 10 French missionary priests of the Paris Foreign Missions Society and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, as well as four lay catechists who were killed in Laos by communist guerillas between 1954 and 1970.

During the meeting with Cardinal Amato, the pope also approved decrees recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Brazilian Father Francisco de Paula Victor (1827-1905), as well as a miracle attributed to Polish Sister Clara Szczesna (1863-1916), co-founder of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The approval of the miracles means dates can be set for their beatifications.

In one of the initial steps of the sainthood process, the pope declared four Italians "venerable." They are: Father Antonino Celona (1873-1952), founder of the Handmaids of Reparation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Father Ottorino Zanon (1915-1972), founder the Society of Saint Cajetan; Father Marcello Labor (1890-1954), who converted to Catholicism from Judaism and was ordained after his wife’s death; and Sister Antonia Lalia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1839-1914), founder of the Dominican Missionary Sisters of St. Sixtus.

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