Rome, Italy, Oct 9, 2016 / 09:26 am
The Albanian priest whose testimony moved Pope Francis to tears in 2014 is one of the 17 international bishops and priests the Pope will elevate to the College of Cardinals Nov. 19.
Father Ernest Troshani Simoni, 88, is one of the last survivors of the terrible Communist persecution in Albania. He shared his testimony with Pope Francis in 2014 during the Pope's daytrip to Tirana, Albania. Pope Francis was visibly moved by the testimony and gave Fr. Simoni a warm embrace.
Fr. Simoni was a seminarian in December 1944, when an atheistic Communist regime came to power in Albania. The regime sought to eliminate the faith and clergy with "arrests, torture and killings of priests and lay people for seven straight years, shedding the blood of the faithful, some of who shouted, 'Long live Christ the King,' as they were shot."
In 1948, Communists shot and killed Fr. Simoni's Franciscan superiors. He continued his studies in secret and was later ordained a priest.