In statements to Vatican Radio, Sister Sonia, one of the religious living at the convent, noted that the convent was the “first Poor Clare monastery here in Albania to open after many centuries. Today we are using an old convent that belonged to the Franciscan friars. In 1946 it was confiscated and transformed into the headquarters of the Securimi, that is, the regime’s secret police.”
She recalled that one of the sections of the convent “was converted into a cell for detaining and torturing prisoners. The oldest part still contains even today a series of cells where prisoners died and where you can still see the signs of the torture.”
“Walking through the hallways of the convent you can still truly breathe an air of grace: these halls have truly been washed in the blood of the martyrs,” she added.
Sister Sonia explained later that “these men were stripped of their dignity as human beings. We can see signs of this on the walls.” “We remember moreover that during the persecution of the Enver Hoxha regime in 1945, a true ecumenism of suffering was experienced in this place,” she said.
“We are here to safeguard and to tell this story, so that it is not forgotten. It is very important because we know that if a nation does not recognize its own history, it risks repeating the same errors, and not only this, but this nation wants to rebuild a better and different history,” Sister Sonia added.
She said she hoped young people would be inspired by the history of the convent and that it would be a place to bring people together. “We are happy to be here since it is the Lord who has allowed this,” she said.
.- In the Albanian town of Scutari, eight Poor Clare sisters have opened the doors of their convent, which was once used as a prison during the Communist regime where many died defending their faith.