Monday, May 19, 2008

"You Are My Witnesses That I Am Dying For The Catholic Faith."

Bl. Ignatius de Azevedo, S.J. (Portuguese: 1527-1570) was one of the Forty Martyrs of Brazil who met their death off the Canary Islands at the hands of Huguenots. Ignatius had worked in Rome as procurator for India and Brazil, then the Superior General, Francis Borgia assigned him to Brazil as Visitor to find how Rome could help the Jesuits working there. The answer was more Jesuits, so Ignatius went to visit the Spanish and Portuguese provinces of the Society to seek volunteers for the Brazil mission and succeeded in gathering 49 young Jesuit volunteers.

The 40 martyrs In spite of the clear danger of pirate ships they sailed off in two ships. Ignatius expressed his feeling: "If the Huguenots should capture us, what harm can they do? The most they can do is to send us speedily to heaven."

On July 15, 1570 as they were heading into the Port of Palms, near the Canary Islands, one of the two ships, with 40 Jesuits aboard, was overtaken by five faster pirate ships under the command of a French Huguenot, formerly a Catholic, now a declared enemy of Jesuits. When the pirates boarded the ship and saw

Fr. Azevedo in the center of the ship holding a painting of the Virgin Mary, a pirate slashed him with a sword as he protested: "You are my witnesses that I am dying for the Catholic Faith." The pirates picked up his body and hurled him overboard with the painting still held tightly in his hands.

They then hacked to death the rest of the 39 Jesuits and threw them all into the sea, leaving unharmed the rest of the passengers. (Ban, Cor, Ham, JLx, Tyl)
Painting is not of the actual incident, but I think best represents the post and what these heroic unarmed Jesuits faced.

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