The 38 Albanian martyrs that died crying "Long Live Christ the King"

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When Pope Francis traveled to Albania two years ago, the testimony of priests and religious leaders who lived under the oppression of the communist regime left him speechless. Now, the 38 people who did not survive torture and died as victims of hatred for the faith have been declared martyrs and will soon be beatified.  

MSGR. ANGELO MASSAFRA Archbishop of Shkodra (Albania)

 'In the group of 38 martyrs, the last person was killed in '74 because he secretly baptised someone. The priest was also betrayed and was shot. Before being killed, they used to shout 'Long live Christ the King!' like in Mexico. They used to say, 'Long live Christ the King, long live Albania, and long live the Pope!'  

The full group of martyrs will be beatified in Albania. They are Franciscan friar, Vicente Prennushi the Archbishop of Durres, and the 37 other people killed due to religious hatred between 1945 and 1974.  

MSGR. ANGELO MASSAFRA Archbishop of Shkodra (Albania) 

'In the group there are two bishops and also priests, Franciscans, Jesuits and four layman, including a woman. One of the men, before dying, said, 'I die innocent. I forgive those who have accused me and who killed me.' This is the wealth of these great martyrs, and also the priests who lived under communism, because neither sought revenge against those who had tortured them.'  

After living under Italian fascism and Nazi rule, Albania suffered forty years of Communist dictatorship, which seemed determined to erase their faith. The suppresion of the faith caused Albania to be proclaimed as the first atheist state of the world in 1967.  

Some of the 38 martyrs were shot, while others died in prison or from brutal torture. It is understood that all the martyrs died forgiving their executioners, without rancor, and pronouncing the name of God until their very last breath.

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