published: 13.10.2012, 10:54 | updated: 13.10.2012 12:36:40
Prague - Fourteen Franciscan friars who were tortured to death in the 17th century were beatified at a ceremony with a mass celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Amato, a representative of the Vatican, in St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle today.
This has been the first beatification in the Prague archdiocese, the Catholic Church has announced.
The Prague Archbishop, Cardinal Dominik Duka said at the ceremony the past tragic event was a result of the moral crisis in the whole Europe, and consequently it is a warning for the present.
The decree on the beatification was signed by Pope Benedict XVI. Beatification is a precondition for a later canonisation.
Unlike the canonised saints, who are worshiped in the whole Catholic community, the cult of beatification is usually limited to a diocese, a country or a religious order.
The 14 friars from various European countries were sent to Prague, which was predominantly Protestant then, at the beginning of the 17th century to preach for the Catholic minority.
After the Passau army's invasion of Prague in 1611 the town's inhabitants suspected the friars of collaboration and they killed them all in the Our Lady of the Snow monastery on February 15, 1611.
The friars' bodies were buried in the monastery's cloister after four days and later in the chapel.
The first steps to their beatification were taken in the 17th century and the process was officially launched in the 1930s. However, it was interrupted by the communist regime (1948-89) for 40 years and reopened only after its collapse in 1989.
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