Vatican City, Jan 27, 2018 / 05:05 am
Saturday Pope Francis moved two 20th-century martyrs a step closer to sainthood, including Veronica Antal, a young Romanian woman killed during an attempted rape in 1958, and Pierre Claverie, a bishop who promoted dialogue between Muslims and Christians in Algeria.
The Pope’s recognition of Antal and Claverie as martyrs, “killed in hatred of the faith,” was announced Jan. 27, one day after he met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Six other sainthood causes were also advanced.
Veronica Antal was born in Nisiporesti, a small village in Romania, on Dec. 7, 1935. Because her parents spent a lot of time at work in the fields, she was raised mostly by her grandmother Zarafina, who taught her about the faith and inspired her love of Christ and the Church.
She attended primary school in her native village, earning good grades, and afterward joined her parents to work in the field.
By around the age of 16 or 17, she expressed a desire to enter the monastery, though she was unable to do so because the communist government had already abolished almost all Catholic monasteries in the country.
Instead she joined the Secular Franciscans as a tertiary and led a religious life at home, receiving Holy Communion and spending time in adoration daily, though she had to walk five miles to the nearest church.
On Aug. 24, 1958, just a few months shy of her 23rd birthday, she was returning from the Divine Liturgy at the local parish where she had just received the sacrament of Confirmation, when she was attacked by a young man, who attempted in vain to rape her.
She died after being stabbed 42 times with a knife. Antal had a special devotion to the Virgin Mary and prayed the Rosary every day. Those who found her body noted that she had a rosary gripped firmly in her hands.