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The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History Hardcover – June 25, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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 Flanagan
Copyright © 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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 429 pages
  • Publisher: Crossroad General Interest; 1st edition (June 25, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0824518462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824518462
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #561,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tim Drake VINE VOICE on December 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
No period in history has seen greater persecution of Christians, and so we should not be surprised that the 20th century has seen the creation of perhaps more martyrs and Saints than any other historical period which preceeded it.
In his book, Robert Royal examines the persecution of Catholics in countries such as Mexico, Spain, Austria, and Poland over the last century.
Royal's book includes extensive research and compelling background material for each of the martyrs addressed. The book includes such well-known martyrs such as St. Maximilian Kolbe, Miguel Pro, and Bishop Oscar Romero, and also introduces the reader to lesser-known martyrs for the faith.
No Pope has canonized or beatified as many Saints as Pope John Paul II. A great many of them are from the 20th century. There is a reason that the Pope has done this. He realizes that we will need the role models of these faithful men and women as we face the future.
Royal presents us with the stories behind many of these very men and women. Their stories are both extraordinary and inspirational.
Royal's book presents not only the stories of these martyrs, but also a history of the Church versus socialist/communist governments. In the end, it is a book about good and evil.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up Robert Royal's book mainly because I wanted information about this little-known subject. I had in the back of my mind that I could use it for apologetics purposes to point out that Catholics have been targeted by exploitive regimes rather than being collaborators, as Pope Pius XII has been accused of.
What I encountered was the power of the witness of these men and women who found the grace to love their enemies. One of the priests who was victimized by the Soviets wrote to his mother from the Gulag: "If we allow ourselves to become exasperated, we are not real Christians, just fanatics". I have to admit to being exasperated alot and have had to examine how much do I love people whose behavior causes me pain (usually unintentionally).
Fr. Christian Lebreten of the French Trappists who were killed by Algerian terrorists 8 years ago also got my attention. He writes to his killer (in advance) "I see God's face in yours" and "may we meet as happy theives in the kingdom if it is the Father's will". The monks all wrote in advance in the journals that they did not want Muslims in general or their own neighbors to be blamed or looked down upon for their deaths by an extreme minority.
My wife was upset with me for taking the book on vacation. (It isn't light reading.) But I'm glad I did.
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Format: Hardcover
Royal does an excellent job researching the martyrology of this past century. While the most recent murders of bishops like Michael Courtney and Luigi Locati are not yet documented, there is alot of material to chew on. The chapters are divided up by region, so you can expect to read a handful of pages about the Holocaust martyrs (almost forgotten & overshadowed witnesses of faith) then on to the genocidal machine of the Soviets, Chinese,etc. The most intersting sections are on the state-sponsored persecutions of the Church close to home-namely Mexico.

The sheer amount of facts, dates and names may make this a bit dry in places and the documentation of total numbers from some places in the tens of thousands evades the personal touch of the "one man martyr", like Kolbe or Pro. In the end expect to come away very informed, awe inspired and inclined to attempt keeping up on the new martyrs who still flood in every year.
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Format: Hardcover
How can I put my experience reading this book into words. Story after story provides accounts of amazing men and women who, in the face of unthinkable torture and certain death, simply would not abandon their Savior nor the Church in Rome. Each chapter details the persecution of Catholics in a different part of the world, including Mexico, Soviet Russia and its Territories, Ukraine, Charles de Foucauld, Spain, Nazi Holocaust, Edith Stein, Poland and Saint Maximillian Kolbe, Eastern and Central Europe - An Introduction, Albania, Lithuania, Romania, Latin America (including Archbishop Romero of El Salvador), Asia - An Introduction, China, Korea, Vietnam, and Africa. Some chapters portray individuals such as Charles de Foucauld, Edith Stein, and Saint Maximillian Kolbe.
This book will amaze and inspire you. It is a textbook on how to love Christ above all and a reminder that the Catholic faith is truly worth dying for.
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Format: Hardcover
Robert Royal's account of the 20th century martyrs is grim, compelling, necessary. To read this book is to take one's place with St John the Evangelist, St Mary Magdalene, and the Mother of God under the shadow of the Cross. We read with what relentless fury, with what dehumanizing atrocity, the secular persecutors of the Church treated the priests, religious & layfolk. The section on the Spanish Civil War was especially eye-opening & horrifying: a needed corrective to histories that have been told from the skewed standpoint of the Left. The luminous examples of Miguel Pro of 1920s Mexico, of Charles de Foucauld in 1916 North Africa, of Oscar Romero and others, will inspire any reader. They are not double-minded souls, but lovers of God's law. The Communist atrocities in Albania and Rumania are particularly reprehensible and sickening, the tortures devised quite hellish. We are angered at the comparative silence of other historians when denouncing the evils that came from these nations.
The history (not comprehensive, the author admits, in spite of the subtitle which the publisher insisted upon) takes us to the days of Solidarity in Poland, through Korea, Vietnam, and China, through martyrs of the Idi Amin era in Uganda, and the awesome example of the seven Cistercian Trappists in Tibhirine (Our Lady of Atlas), Algeria, who were compelled to surrender their lives in 1996. In the chapter on Vietnam, Cardinal Francis X. Nguyen Van Thuan tells of his days in Communist prisons.
"Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?" Robert Royal answers the psalmist's plaintive questions (from Psalm 88) in the affirmative.
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