Thursday, July 10, 2014
Beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1926, these eight Franciscan friars and three Maronite laymen were offered the choice of converting to Islam or suffering death in Damascus on July 9, 1860.
Thousands of Maronite Christians had already been killed by the Druz in Southern Lebanon in that year and the Druz, an offshoot sect of Shiite Islam, had turned their attention to Damascus where they killed nearly two thousand more.
When they had reached the Franciscan convent there, the superior, a spaniard named Fr. Emmanuel Ruiz, who had sheltered the Christians that lived around the convent inside the chapel, was threatened with death if he did not convert immediately.
He refused and they cut him to pieces and killed the rest of his community and the three Maronites who, refusing to flee with the other Christians, chose to die rather than deny their faith.