“As for the saints who are in the Earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.”
– Psalm 16:3
Two missionary priests from Poland, Fr. Michal Tomaszek and Fr. Zbigniew Strzalkowski, and one from Italy, Fr. Sandro Dordi, were martyred in Peru in 1991 by a terrorist organization known as the Shining Path for “spreading the word of God.” The two Polish priests were martyred in the town of Pariacoto and, sixteen days later, the Italian priest was martyred in the town of Santa. Both towns are located nearby in the same region as Chimbote.
While Peru has several saints, including Rose of Lima and Martin de Porres, as well as others recognized for their faith, these three Franciscan priests are the first who directly suffered martyrdom. Pope Francis gave approval on February 3, 2015 for their beatification in Chimbote, Peru, on December 5, 2015. This was a day of great celebration in Chimbote to thank God for those who defended their faith so vigorously and courageously.
From the early days of the church, Christians have venerated martyrs as powerful intercessors. The 2nd-century Church Father Tertullian wrote that, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church,” implying that the martyrs’ willing sacrifice of their lives leads to the conversion of others.