Pope advances sainthood causes of Albanian martyrs, four others

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saints
Pope Francis celebrates Mass for the canonization of 10 new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes of three women and three men, including two priests who were killed in hatred of the faith in Albania in the early 20th century.

After the pope met June 20 with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, the Vatican published the list of decrees the pope approved in six sainthood causes.

The pope recognized the martyrdom for the beatification of Franciscan Father Luigi Paliq, killed in 1913, and Father Gjon Gazulli, hanged in 1927. Martyrs do not need a miracle attributed to their intercession for beatification. However, a miracle must be recognized by the Vatican for them to become saints.

Franciscan Father Luigi Paliq

Franciscan Father Paliq, who was born in 1877, ministered in his home Archdiocese of Skopje, which was occupied by bordering Montenegro during the Balkan Wars. The occupying forces were pressuring Muslims and Catholics to convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, and the priest encouraged people to remain faithful to their beliefs.

Father Paliq refused to flee from the persecution as he wanted to continue carrying out his mission and be close to the persecuted. He was arrested on a false charge and told to renounce his faith and convert to Orthodoxy, but he refused and was killed in 1913 in Pejë, which was in Albania and is now part of Kosovo.

Father Gjon Gazulli

Father Gjon Gazulli, who was born in Albania in 1893, faced persecution under the regime of President Ahmed Zogu, who was hostile to Catholic clergy. The priest was falsely accused of instigating a revolt and was sentenced to death in 1927.

Of the six sainthood causes the pope advanced June 20, the Franciscans are promoting four of those causes: the two martyrs; Franciscan Father Isaia Columbro, who was born in Italy in 1908 and died in 2004; and Sister Maria Costanza Zauli, foundress of the Handmaids Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament of Bologna, who was born in Italy in 1886 and died in 1954.

Heroic virtues recognized

The pope recognized the heroic virtues of Father Columbro, who, according to the dicastery’s biography of him, “embodied the Franciscan ideal of a life interwoven with a spirit of service, simplicity, and humility in constant self-giving.”

Pope Francis also recognized the heroic virtues of Sister Zauli, who, the dicastery said, nurtured her faith during many “painful trials she endured” and was fervently devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, referring to it as “‘the sun’ that illuminates all of existence.”

Other decrees signed by the pope attested to the heroic virtues lived by: Ascensión Sacramento Sánchez Sánchez, who was a Spanish consecrated laywoman, who lived from 1911 to 1946 and was an early member of the secular institute Cruzada Evangélica; and Sister Vicenta Guilarte Alonso, a member of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus, who was born in Spain in 1879 and died in Brazil in 1960.

Carol Glatz

Carol Glatz writes for Catholic News Service.