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Pope Francis to canonize ‘Martyrs of Damascus,’ three others on Oct. 20

Pope Francis to canonize ‘Martyrs of Damascus,’ three others on Oct. 20

By Hannah Brockhaus

Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass of canonization for 14 people, including the 11 “Martyrs of Damascus,” on Sunday, Oct. 20, the Vatican announced Monday.

The pope declared the date of the canonization, which will take place during the 2024 assembly of the Synod on Synodality, after the College of Cardinals voted to approve the canonizations of 15 people in a consistory on the morning of July 1.

The date of the much-anticipated canonization of Blessed Carlo Acutis will be set at a later time, according to the July 1 press release.

The “Martyrs of Damascus” were murdered “out of hatred for the faith” in Damascus, Syria, some time during the night of July 9–10, 1860. The event took place during the persecution of Christians by Shia Druze, which spread from Lebanon to Syria and resulted in thousands of victims.


A Druze commando entered a Franciscan convent in the Christian quarter of Bab-Touma (St. Paul) in the Old City of Damascus and massacred the friars Manuel Ruiz López, Carmelo Bolta, Nicanor Ascanio, Nicolás M. Alberca y Torres, Pedro Soler, Engelbert Kolland, Francisco Pinazo Peñalver, Juan S. Fernández, and three laymen who were biological brothers — Francis, Abdel Mohti, and Raphaël Massabki.

Upon refusing to renounce their Christian faith and convert to Islam, the 11 were brutally killed, some beheaded with sabers and axes, others stabbed or clubbed to death. The martyrs were beatified in 1926.

One of two women to be canonized on Oct. 20 is Blessed Elena Guerra, known as “an apostle of the Holy Spirit.”

A friend of Pope Leo XIII and the teacher of St. Gemma Galgani, Elena Guerra (1835–1914) is known for her spiritual writings and her passionate devotion to the Holy Spirit.

Canadian sister Blessed Marie-Léonie Paradis, founder of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, will also be declared a saint on Oct. 20. Born Virginie Alodie on May 12, 1840, in L’Acadie, Quebec, the blessed founded her institute, whose purpose was to collaborate with and support the religious of Holy Cross in educational work, in 1880 in New Brunswick.

Today her sisters work in over 200 institutions of education and evangelization in Canada, the United States, Italy, Brazil, Haiti, Chile, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Italian Blessed Giuseppe Allamano, who will also be canonized Oct. 20, founded two religious congregations: the Consolata Missionaries (for men) and the Consolata Missionary Sisters (for women).

Born in 1851, Allamano was deeply influenced by the spirituality of the Salesians and St. John Bosco as well as his uncle, St. Joseph Cafasso, a noted priest and spiritual director who was known as one of Turin’s “social saints.” 

Photo credit:
Pope Francis announced he will celebrate a Mass of canonization for 14 people, including the 11 “Martyrs of Damascus,” on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2024, the Vatican announced after the College of Cardinals voted to approve the canonizations of 15 people in a consistory on the morning of July 1, 2024. | Credit: Vatican Media

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