On Wednesday, October 28th, and after a meeting between Pope Francis and Cardinal-elect Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Pope advanced the sainthood causes of five men and four women.
These nine people are now on the path towards canonization. The pope recognized three miracles, the heroic virtues of two Servants of God, and the martyrdom of four Servants of God. Among them are two Lebanese priests.
“The martyrdom of the Servants of God Léonard Melki and Thomas Saleh professed priests of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor. The two men were killed in hatred of the Faith, in Turkey, in 1915 and 1917.”
These two priests were killed under the Ottoman Empire. They were Capuchin friars and missionaries. Fr. Leonard Melki and Fr. Thomas Saleh were imprisoned and tortured before being martyred.
Fr. Leonard Melki chose to die as a Christian, refusing to convert to Islam. His punishment was to march into the desert where he was killed along with hundreds of other Christian prisoners, including the Armenian Catholic archbishop Blessed Ignatius Malayan, who was beatified by John Paul II in 2001.
As for Fr. Thomas Saleh, he was executed for sheltering an Armenian priest during the Armenian genocide. According to the Capuchin Order in Lebanon, before his execution, Fr. Saleh affirmed, “I have full trust in God, I am not afraid of death.”
The other decrees that Pope Francis has authorized the promulgation of are the miracles of the intercession of Blessed Giustino Maria Russolillo, the Venerable Servant of God Maria Lorenza Requenses in Longo, and the Venerable Servant of God Elżbieta Czacka.
The other two martyrs who are a step closer to sainthood are the Servants of God Luigi Lenzini and Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos.
Pope Francis also approved decrees related to the heroic virtues of two Servants of God, Roberto Giovanni and Maria Teresa of the Heart of Jesus.