- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company (October 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780824524142
- ISBN-13: 978-0824524142
- ASIN: 0824524144
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #803,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History Paperback – October 1, 2006
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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.
Wrong. The 20th century had more martyrs than any other century in history. They range from Mexico, where Catholics priests were hunted down for saying the Mass, and then executed, like Father Pro.
The numbers of those murdered under Soviet Russia can only be guessed at, ranging from the 13,000 Catholics who "paraded down to the headquarters of the Cheka...in St Petersburg after a Sunday Mass" (p 47).
The reports of those who lived through the Gulag and the deaths they saw there are terrifying. Yet some, like Bishop Charnetskyi who "was tortured terribly for many days...bore it with such courage and obvious sanctity that..." (p 79) one of his tormentors begged his forgiveness.
In Spain, the communists took nuns from convents and shot them. Crucifixions were actually reported, along with all the other bloody murders of priests and Catholics that took place. Again, the numbers can only be guessed at.
The Nazis killed practically every priest in Poland, and the future Pope John Paul only escaped by a miracle. Edith Stein and Maximilian Kolbe were among those martyred in the camps.
And I have only scratched the surface of this book. It's a must have for your library.
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.