Priests were killed with 18 laypeople, accompanying the indigenous in a conflict with Spanish troops, to bear witness to the peace of the Gospel.
Pope Francis noted that on July 2 in Argentina, Pedro Ortiz de Zárate, a diocesan priest, and Giovanni Antonio Solinas, a priest of the Society of Jesus, were beatified.
The two missionaries sought to carry out an evangelization that respected the indigenous populations.
“These two missionaries, who dedicated their lives to transmitting the faith and defending the indigenous peoples, were killed in 1683 because they carried the Gospel message of peace,” explained Pope Francis after praying the midday Angelus on July 3.
In a context of conflict between local populations and Spanish colonial troops, the two priests chose to travel unarmed and unescorted to bear witness to the message of peace brought by Christianity.
Accompanied by indigenous people, they were eventually killed along with 18 lay people, who were not beatified due to the lack of documentation about them, their names not being known.
The Argentine pope has personally supported the cause of beatification of these martyred priests, the oldest officially recognized in his native country.
“May the example of these martyrs help us to bear witness to the Good News without compromise, dedicating ourselves generously to the service of the weakest,” urged Pope Francis.
The beatification Mass was presided over on July 2, 2022, by Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, in the presence of about 25 bishops from Argentina, Vatican News reported.
An open-air shrine will be dedicated to the martyrs, in the province of Salta, to highlight their witness of evangelization in the context of the country’s ethnic diversity.