Rorate Caeli

A glorious wave of canonizations: Jacinta & Francisco Marto; Mexican and Brazilian Protomartyrs

Today, Pope Francis presided a Public Ordinary Consistory for the canonization of several blesseds.

Considering the year of the Fatima Centenary, the canonization of Jacinta and Francisco Marto (the Fatima seers, along with Sister Lucia, their cousin) is obviously the greatest news. The canonization will take place in Fatima on May 13.

But the consistory also approved the canonizations, and set the dates for the respective ceremonies, of two very special sets of saints: the Protomartyrs (First Martyrs) of the two nations with the largest nominally Catholic populations, Mexico and Brazil.

Martyrdom of Cristopher of Tlaxcala

The Child-Martyrs of Tlaxcala -- Cristóbal, Antonio and Juan (Christopher, Anthony, John) -- had long been venerated as the first fruits of martyrdom of the glorious adventure of the evangelization of Mexico. Aged between 10 and 14 at the time of their deaths (Cristobalito, in 1527; then Antonio and Juan together in 1529), they were killed in what is now the Diocese of Tlaxcala, by the vicious pagans of Mexico who could not accept their love and zeal for Christ.


Over 100 years later, during the Dutch occupation of Northeastern Brazil, in what is now the Archdiocese of Natal, two groups, totaling 149 Catholics, were massacred inside churches during Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in what can be considered the largest martyrdoms ever in South America. The martyrdoms took place in two different churches: on July 15, 1645, in the Church of Our Lady of the Lights, in the village of Cunhau, 69 faithful, led by Fr. Andre de Soveral, were attacked right after the Elevation at Mass. The church was locked and a group of Indians and Dutchmen slaughtered all inside. On October 3 of the same year, a larger group of 80 Catholics were attacked in the same way, along with Fr. Ambrosio Francisco Ferro. At the time of beatification, only those 30 faithful (2 priests and 28 lay faithful) whose names had been identified with precision were recognized for veneration. They are considered the First Martyrs (Protomartyrs) of Brazil.