Natal, Brazil (Friday, October 6, 2017, Gaudium Press) “The canonization of the martyrs is very important for Brazil, because the martyrs represent the simple people and their canonization will reinvigorate the need of the virtue of faith, it will reinforce the value of martyrdom, the importance of giving witness and the practice of piety. Their canonization should awaken in everyone a sense of spirituality and introspection, so that we may return to God considering the serious realities we are facing”, said Archbishop Jaime Vieira Rocha of Natal about the future martyrs of Brazil to be canonized by Pope Francis on October 15 at Saint Peter’s Square.
The story of their martyrdom
The massacres took place on July 16 and on October 3, 1645, during the Dutch occupation of the Northeast of Brazil. Led by Jacó Rabbi, a German at the service of the Company of the Dutch West Indies, and assisted by soldiers and Tapuian Indians they invaded the Chapel of the “Engenho de Cunhaú” during Sunday Mass and assassinated Father Andre de Several as well as a group of faithful.
The Dutch soldiers were Calvinists and demanded that Catholics should deny their faith and convert to Calvinism.
On October 3, another group of Catholics living in Natal was taken to the village of Uruaçu, nowadays in the State of Goias, on the banks of the Potengi River, and martyred. According to chroniclers of the time, the layman Mateus Moreira had his heart taken off through his back. In his agony, Matthew said repeatedly: “Praise be to the Blessed Sacrament”.
The protomartyrs of Brazil were beatified in the year 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Jaime Vieira, who is traveling to Rome with a large delegation from his archdiocese, expressed his hopes that the canonization of these martyrs will emphasize nonviolence and he concluded: “Our people today live a very great tragedy, may they never lose faith, may they never lose confidence and all the strength they need to overcome their problems”.
Source Vatican Radio