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Living Martyr of Albania Again Honored by Pope Francis

AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO
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The Pope is visibly moved after meeting a priest persecuted by the Communist regime

Pope Francis has again kissed the hands of Father Ernest Simoni, the Albanian priest who spent 28 years in prison for being faithful to the Church during the Communist regime.

The visibly moved Bishop of Rome met the priest some days ago, after the general audience of April 20, in St. Peter’s Square.

“This is an Albanian martyr,” the Pope said when he saw him.

The Pope has met this priest before. And once again, he pressed his forehead to the forehead of the living martyr.

web-audience-ernest-simoni-vatican-2016-facebook-paoline
via Paolin Facebook (ES)

They first met on Nov. 21, 2014, in Tirana; the Holy Father cried when Fr. Simoni gave his testimony about the torture he suffered for refusing to deny Christ.

“The Pope immediately remembered Father Ernest,” Italian author Mimmo Muolo of Avvenire told Aleteia. “He addressed him with his last name, ‘Simoni!’ and indicated that he remembered the story of his persecution, recounted in the cathedral of Tirana in 2014.”

Muolo is the author of “Don Ernest Simoni: Dai lavori forzati all’incontro con Francesco” (Father Ernest Simoni: From persecution to a meeting with Francis, San Paoline, 2016).

“Obviously, Fr. Ernest did everything he could so that the Holy Father wouldn’t kiss his hands, at the same time, trying to kiss those of the Pope,” Muolo remarked.

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