Although an abundance of literature devoted to the lives and deaths of historical martyrs exists, scant attention has been paid to Catholic martyrs of the twentieth century. Estimating that approximately one million of the faithful have been martyred over the past 100 years, Royal attempts to validate and document these contemporary victims. Citing the antireligious nature of many modern regimes, he traces both the origins and the results of a relatively recent form of brutal, technologically enhanced religious persecution that has culminated in an unprecedented number of mass murders and individual victims. The virtual globalization of anti-Christian sentiment is underscored by the fact that the chapters outlining the atrocities are arranged primarily by nation. An eloquent, painstakingly researched tribute to those ordinary human beings who managed to meet oppression and death with extraordinary dignity, grace, and faith. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
From Kirkus Reviews
Historian Royal (President/Faith and Reason Institute) surveys the Catholics who, on every continent but Antarctica and Australia, have died for their beliefs in the course of the last century.After an introduction defining the meaning of martyrdom in Catholic faith and devotion, and an explanation of some of the guidelines by which the church determines whether a particular murder constitutes martyrdom, Royal surveys the waves of persecution--from the Mexican government's anticlerical war on the church in the 1920s to the near-genocidal tribal conflicts in Burundi and Rwanda in the 1990s--that have produced more martyrs than any other period of Christian history. Although the stories of many of these figures (such as Maximilian Kolbe, Edith Stein, and Oscar Romero) are well-known, others (the heroic Mexican Jesuit Miguel Pro) are more obscure, and some accounts (the many martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, the victims of postwar Romania's "reeducation," and the surprising story of the Albanian security agent whose denunciation of the Enver Hoxha's persecutions was inadvertently broadcast in 1948) will be new to most readers. Royal treads delicately around some of the more controversial aspects of his martyrology (like the pre-WWII anti-Semitic writings of Kolbe), and he is plainly uncomfortable with the political thrust of the story of Romero and the other martyrs of El Salvador. And some of people profiled here (such as China's Cardinal Ignatius Kung) are not martyrs in the strict sense of the word, as they suffered for their faith without giving their lives. Royal's catalog of the horrors that Catholics, like so many others, suffered at the hands of brutal regimes of both right and left in this bloody century will edify believers--and should provide a useful (and often surprising) historical corrective for all scholars of the modern age. -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.