Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions

Martyrs, First Order
Feast day: July 7

The Church has seen martyrdom since the time of St. Stephen, but the nineteenth century stands out for the sheer volume, fervor, and courage of its martyrs for the Faith. On July 9, a massacre began in Damascus, and in the following three days, just adult males suffered 3,000 fatalities. Eight of these were Minor Friars, and it may be inferred from the circumstances of their deaths that they died as martyrs for the Faith. Convent officials included Emmanuel Ruiz as superior, Carmen Volta (Botta) as procurator, and Engelbert Kolland as assistant procurator.

When the mob attacked the Christians, these religious and their flocks prayed to God and to Our Blessed Lady, and they then fervently received the sacraments to prepare themselves for death. Knowing that death was a certainty, Father Emmanuel Ruiz went to the church to consume the Sacred Species because of fear that the zealots would desecrate the Sacred Host in the tabernacle after they killed. Father Peter Soler was executed with a sword; Father Nicholas Alberca was killed by gunfire; Father Engelbert Kolland was killed with an ax. Father Carmen Volta was beaten to death with a cudgel. The two lay brothers displayed incredible soul strength, and Father Nicanor was dispatched almost as fast.

In 1926, the seventh centennial year of St. Francis's death, Pope Pius XI included Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions, along with three Maronite laymen, among the martyrs and bestowed upon them the title of Blessed.

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