LIMA – Some 25,000 people in the Peruvian city of Chimbote attended Saturday the beatification of Polish Franciscans Miguel Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzalkoswki, and of the Italian priest Alessandro Dordi, considered martyrs after being slain by the Shining Path guerrilla group.
The crowded ceremony took place at the Manuel Rivera Sanchez Centenary Stadium in Chimbote, located in the Ancash region some 440 kilometers (270 miles) north of Lima, where the three religious were murdered.
Italian Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said a High Mass at the request of Pope Francis, and presented the decree declaring the beatification of the three clergymen.
Cardinal Amato read in Latin the apostolic letter from the pope to the Spanish bishop of Chimbote, Angel Simon, in which the pontiff certifies each of the three martyrs as blessed.
Attending the ceremony were the Peruvian ambassador to Italy, Mauro Marsili, and to Poland, Izabela Matusz, as well as the chief authorities of the Peruvian clergy, including the president of the Episcopal Conference, Salvador Piñeiro, and the bishop emeritus of Chimbote, Luis Bambaren, who initiated the beatification process.
Miguel Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzalkowski were killed at the ages of 30 and 32, respectively, on Aug. 9, 1991, in the Andean town of Pariacoto in Huaraz province.
The priest from Bergamo, Alessandro Dordi, was slain on Aug. 25, 1991, at 60 years of age, when he returned to the town of Santa after officiating a liturgy in the nearby municipality of Vinzos, also in Ancash.
The killers left next to the bodies a note that said “so die those who speak of peace and suck up to imperialism,” attorney Diego Garcia Sayan, former president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, recalled.