St. Berard and Companions

Thu, 16 Jan 2014 19:36:16 +0000


St. Berard and companions

Today, January 16th, the universal Church celebrates great saints having incredible courage and love, six Franciscan Friars, all martyrs.

In or about 1219, six Franciscan Friars accepted a challenging assignment from St. Francis, to go to Morocco and preach the Gospel by word and deed, announcing Christ to the Muslims.  Consequently, Friars Berard, Peter, Adjustus, Accursio, Vitalis and Odo traveled by ship, a long, arduous and taxing journey.  They arrived in Seville, Spain, wherein they immediately began their assignment preaching the Gospel of Jesus in the public forums and in the streets to the people there.  The officials thought they were crazy and hence, they were arrested.  These brave individuals requested to see the sultan himself; hence, they were sent to Morocco.

The sultan actually gave these Friars freedom to preach in the city, but those people receiving their message objected and lodged complaints about them.  The sultan, obviously sensing their goodness, sent the Friars to live in Marrakech, which is the west coast of Morocco.  A king prince, Dom Pedro Fernandez, housed them.  Nevertheless, the Friars knew that it was not their mission to stay in a palace, but to preach the Gospel of Good News.  Therefore, they went into the city as much as they could.  Of course, the complaints about their teaching continued.  The sultan took a different approach as he became angry with the ongoing hostilities.  He gave them an ultimatum that they either had to stop their preaching or leave Morocco.  The Friars being true to their mission, declined the sultan’s command and began preaching.  They were then imprisoned, beaten and extended bribes to renounce their Faith in Christ.  They would not do so; accordingly, they were beheaded on January 16th, 1220.

Prince Dom Pedro secured their bodies, bringing their relics to Holy Cross Church in Coimbra, Portugal.  Although at first blush it appeared they failed their mission, this was not the case.  Their lives and sacrifices inspired other Franciscans to become missionaries and martyrs.  Most remarkably, their examples motivated a famous young man to become a Franciscan priest; we know him as St. Anthony of Padua, whose Feast Day is June 13th.

Let us take the courageous, loving and bold examples of these amazing Franciscan Friars to heart.  Remember them when you have to make a decision that has serious consequences, but demands that we do the right.  We are supposed to be Soldiers of Jesus Christ.  Let us continue to keep up the good fight and to remember these holy individuals when we have doubts.




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