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The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History Paperback – October 1, 2006
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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I have two main complaints about this book:
The bigger of the two complaints is that the author relied almost exclusively on secondary sources. It would have been much more valuable a book had the author actually listed the primary source documents that support the accounts he related. Since the author used mostly secondary sources anyone who might actually want to do more research into these martyrdoms will first have to hunt down these secondary sources and then find out what their sources were before actually arriving at the original documents.
The second complaint is more stylistic. The author is repetitive. He used the same phrases again and again. He did not shy away from cliches and he apparently refused to use a thesaurus when writing this book. But despite these shortcomings the stories are riveting enough to overpower the author's personal writing weaknesses.
Despite these and other imperfections, I do indeed recommend this book -- it is something of a monument to those who paid the ultimate price or at least suffered greatly as witnesses to the Fullness of Truth.
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. "The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century" is a harrowing account which can dishearten, and cause us to hate what is evil more than we love what is good, but the unwavering confidence and hope of these scores of Christian martyrs -- from St Maximilian Kolbe to the Vietnamese Redemptorist who would banter with the saints in heaven -- will almost certainly inspire and fortify.
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Having studied Nursing in college, Im terribly remiss in knowledge of history so with a goal of learning history and building...Read more