Sunday 15 September 2019

Pope canonises victims of Dutch colonial massacre in Brazil

A monument to the Martyrs of Natal. Photo: Carla Salgueiro/ Wikimedia Commons

Pope Francis has canonised 30 Portuguese martyrs who were killed during the Dutch colonial occupation of Brazil in the 17th century.

Portuguese Catholics were ordered to convert to Protestantism when the Dutch seized their territories in northern Brazil. A 73-year-old priest and 69 of his followers who refused were massacred during a mass at Natal in June 1645. Another slaughter of dozens of worshippers followed in November.

Pope John Paul II beatified the Martyrs of Natal, the penultimate step on the route to sainthood, in 2000. The group of 30 saints comprises all the victims whose names are known.

October 3 is an official holiday in the northern region of Rio Grande del Norte, in commemoration of the martyrs’ plight.

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