The memory and witness of Romania’s martyred bishops are a reminder that Christians are called to stand firm against ideologies that seek to stifle and suppress their cultural and religious traditions, Pope Francis said.
On the last leg of his visit to Romania, the pope celebrated a Divine Liturgy on 2nd June, during which seven Eastern-rite Catholic bishops, who died during a fierce anti-religious campaign waged by the communist regime in Romania, were beatified.
“These pastors, martyrs for the faith, re-appropriated and handed down to the Romanian people a precious legacy that we can sum up in two words: freedom and mercy,” the pope said.
According to the Vatican, an estimated 60,000 people filled Blaj’s Liberty Field, while some 20,000 people followed the liturgy on big screens set up in various squares around the city.
For Eastern Catholics in Romania, the field – located on the grounds of Blaj’s Greek Catholic Theological Seminary – is both a symbol of national pride and sorrow.
It was in Liberty Field where, during the 100th anniversary of the Romanian nationalist revolution, communist authorities formerly dissolved the Eastern-rite Romanian Catholic Church.
Picture: Clergy carry an icon of seven martyred bishops of the Eastern-rite Romanian Catholic Church as Pope Francis celebrates a Divine Liturgy and the beatification of the seven bishops at Liberty Field in Blaj, Romania, on 2nd June 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).