The 800 Skulls and Bones of the Martyrs of Otranto on Display

From Wikipedia Commons of the bones of 800 martyrs on display at the Otranto Cathedral

From Wikipedia Commons of the bones of 800 martyrs on display at the Otranto Cathedral.

Antonio Primaldo and his 800 companion martyrs, known as the “martyrs of Otranto“, were killed on a hill outside the Italian town by Ottoman Turk invaders.  On August 14, 1480 after Ottoman Turks besieged and conquered the village of Otranto, the invaders killed all of the men over 50, and killed or enslaved women and children under 15. When the surviving men, an estimated 800, were given a choice to either covert to Islam or die, they chose death.  Their remains were taken to the cathedral and placed in the Chapel of the Martyrs in a glass fronted case behind the altar as a reminder of their sacrifice.

The martyrs were beatified in 1771, and Pope Francis canonized them in May of 2013.   According to The Guardian, their canonisation was controversial because of the nature of their deaths.  To avoid this, Pope Francis focused on the martyrs commitment to Christianity, rather than their rejection of Islam.  He went on to say that their deaths should be understood in their historical context of the wars that determined the relationship between Europe and the Ottoman Empire.  The 800 Martyrs are the patron saints of Otranto.



Categories: History

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