Pope Francis on Sunday beatified the seven martyred Greek-Catholic bishops, during the Holy Mass held on the Liberty Field in Blaj, in the presence of one hundred thousand faithful.
Cardinal Lucian Muresan, Major Archbishop of the Greek-Catholic Church, was the one who read the request by which Pope Francis was asked to proclaim the seven martyred bishops as Saints, “for they chose to die instead of denying their Catholic faith.”
The Holy Father agreed with the beatification and proclaimed the martyred bishops as Saints to be celebrated on June 2.
Then, they unveiled the martyrs’ icon, which was blessed.
The seven Romanian Greek-Catholic bishops who were proclaimed Saints on Sunday are: Valeriu Traian Frentiu, Vasile Aftenie, Ioan Suciu, Tit Liviu Chinezu, Ioan Balan, Alexandru Rusu and Iuliu Hossu. They were tortured and hunted by the communist regime and died between 1950-1970.
Cardinal Lucian Muresan thanked Pope Francis for his presence among the faithful and for presiding over the Holy Mass with the beatification of the seven martyred bishops.
“Here, in Blaj, is where the heart of our Church beats, in the middle of the small herd at the periphery of existence as compared with the greatest of this world. Here, our Church, through prayers and actions, embraces the marginalized, the poor, while expressing its innate vocation for solidarity,” said the Cardinal.
“Do bless us, our Holy Father, bless our Church, bless the ill ones, the imprisoned ones, the elderly, the families facing a hard time, the many faithful who live in the Diaspora,” said the Cardinal.
Relatives of the seven martyred bishops who were beatified on Sunday by Pope Francis on the Liberty Field were also present at the ceremony.
The procedure of recognition of the martyrdom of the seven bishops lasted for a quarter of a century. Four of the bishops died in the Sighet and Gherla prisons, Valeriu Traian Frentiu, Ioan Suciu, Tit Liviu Chinezu and Alexandru Rusu. Their toms remain unknown, as they couldn’t be identified to this day. After they survived the Sighet prison, Vasile Aftenie, Ioan Balan and Iuliu Hossu were buried in the Bellu Cemetery in Bucharest, under the supervision of the Securitate.
According to the tradition, Pope Francis was offered a reliquary with relics and also objects that belonged to the seven Greek-Catholic bishops.
Sovereign Pontiff on beatified bishops: They left a precious inheritance to Romanian people
The seven Greek-Catholic bishops who were beatified on Sunday left a precious inheritance to the Romanian people, which we transpose in two words – freedom and mercifulness, Pope Francis told the tens of thousands who participated in the Holy Mass held on the Liberty Field in Blaj.
“You suffered because of the discourses and actions that were based on vilification, which led to the expulsion and destruction of the ones who couldn’t defend themselves, and actions that reduced to silence the dissonant voices,” said Pope Francis.
The Sovereign Pontiff underscored that, faced with the “merciless” persecution of the regime, the seven bishop proved their faith and an “exemplary” love for their people.
“With great courage and inner strength, they preferred to suffer a tough detention regime and any kind of torture instead of denying their belonging to their beloved Church. These shepherds, witnesses of faith, regained for and left the Romanian people a precious inheritance that we can transpose in two words: freedom and mercifulness,” said Pope Francis.
Pope Francis: May Blessed Virgin Mary guide you to a genuine future of progress, peace
Pope Francis told the rd 100,000 faithful gathered on Sunday in Blaj on the Liberty Field that he entrusts them to Virgin Mary to guide them “towards a future of a genuine progress and peace”, and to building “a more and more righteous and fraternal homeland”.
“Before closing this Divine Liturgy, I wish to once again salute all of you who are present here and the ones I have met these days, and thank you all for the warm welcome, I salute with respect the President of the Republic and the other authorities, expressing my true gratitude for the fruitful collaboration as regards the preparation and unfolding of this visit,” the Holy Pontiff said.
Pope Francis added that he is grateful to the Romanian Orthodox Church for the fraternal spirit welcome.
“I am grateful to His Holiness Patriarch Daniel, to the Holy Synod, to the Clergy and to the faithful of the Orthodox Church in Romania who have fraternally welcomed me! May God bless this ancient and distinguised Church and may He support it in its mission,” the Pontiff stressed.
“I am addressing an affectionate, grateful salute to Your Beatitude, Cardinal Lucian Muresan. I salute the faithful of the Catholic Church: bishops, priests, the consecrated persons and the laic faithful in Bucharest and Iasi, as well as the numerous pilgrims arrived at Sumuleu Ciuc. I thank God who gave me the possibility to pray with you and to encourage you in your commitment of evangelism and testimony of charity. Here in Blaj, land of martyrdom, of freedom and mercifulness I pay tribute to you, sons of the Greek-Catholic Church who for three centuries confess, with apostolic fervor, of your faith,” the Holy Pontiff added.
Eventually, Pope Francis addressed to all Romanians: “May Blessed Virgin Mary shed Her mother protection upon all the citizens of Romania who the long of the history have always entrusted to Her intercession. I entrust you all to Her and ask Her to guide you on your path of faith, to advance to a future of genuine progress and peace, and thus contribute to building a more and more righteous and fraternal motherland.”