The Rule, Article 4

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Berard, Priest, and Companions, Protomartyrs, First Order

In the year 1219 disciples of St. Francis set out for Spain to preach the Gospel to the Mohammedans. They were taken into custody and sent off to Morocco where they continued to preach. Apprehended once more in the city of Marrakesch they were put in chains, cruelly tortured and finally condemned to death by the king of the region in the year 1220.

From the common of several martyrs, 1402

From the Chronicle of the Minister General
(Analecta Franciscana, volume 3 {Quaracchi 1897} 15-19)

We despise everything for the sake of Christ

By the will of God blessed Francis sent six excellent friars to the kingdom of Morocco to preach the Catholic faith courageously to the unbelievers. While they were in the kingdom of Aragon, however, friar Vitalis became seriously ill. As he saw his illness dragon on, and not wishing to delay God’s work by his own bodily weakness, he commanded the other five to carry out the will of god and of friar Francis and to go to Morocco.

Obediently the holy friars left the sick friar Vitalis behind and made their way to Coimbra. Disguising their attire they set out from there and reached Seville, then under the rule of the Saracens. One day in their fervor they went unescorted to the principal mosque or oratory. As they attempted to enter, indignant Saracens rushed upon them, shouting, pushing and beating them; they did not permit them to enter under any circumstances.

When at length they arrived at the entrance to the king’s palace they said they had been sent as ambassadors from the King of kings, Jesus Christ. Thereupon they spoke at length to the king about the Catholic faith to induce him to be converted and to receive baptism. The king became enraged and ordered them to be beheaded. Later, however, after consultation with older men he sent them to Morocco as they wished.

They entered the City and began immediately to preach to the Saracens who were in the market place. The king heard of this and he commanded that they be sent to prison where they spent twenty days without food and drink, nourished only by divine consolation. The ruler then had them brought forth. When he found them steadfastly professing the Catholic faith he was greatly angered and ordered them to be tortured in various ways, to be kept separately and to be severely beaten.

Thereupon the hostile attendants bound the hands and feet of the holy men, put ropes around their necks, dragged them to and fro, and beat them so fiercely that their bare bones were almost visible. Containers of boiling oil and vinegar were emptied over their wounds. The vessels were then broken and spread on the floor and the holy men were thrown down on the pieces and rolled to and fro. They were thus kept in custody and tortured for a whole night and cruelly beaten by about thirty Saracens.

The king of the Moroccans filled with rage had them brought before him. With their hands tied behind their backs, stripped of their clothing and barefooted, with their
tormentors spattered with blood from the incessant cudgeling, they were brought
in. When the king saw them and found them firm in the faith, he brought in some
women, ordering the others out, and said : “Be converted to our faith and I will
give you these women as your wives and much money besides. You will be held in
honor in my realm.”

The blessed martyrs however replied: “The women and your money we do not want’ we despise everything for the sake of Christ.” The enraged king then took a sword and fractured the skull of each in turn. He used three swords to behead them and thus killed them with his own hands with deadly cruelty.

From: Proper offices of Franciscan Saints and Blesseds in the Liturgy of the Hours

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