VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Francis on Sunday gave the Catholic church new saints, including hundreds of 15th-century martyrs who were beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam, as he led his first canonization ceremony Sunday in a packed St. Peter's Square.
The "Martyrs of Otranto" were 813 Italians who were slain in the southern Italian city in 1480 for defying demands by Turkish invaders who overran the citadel to renounce Christianity.
Shortly after his election in March, Francis called for more dialogue with Islam, and it was unclear how the granting of sainthood to the martyrs would be received. Islam is a sensitive subject for the church, and Benedict stumbled significantly in his relations with Muslims.
Islam is sensitive?
Sensitive about the fact that it persecuted Christians.
The Mass Exodus of Christians from the Muslim World
by Raymond Ibrahim
A mass exodus of Christians is currently underway. Millions of Christians are being displaced from one end of the Islamic world to the other.
We are reliving the true history of how the Islamic world—much of which prior to the Islamic conquests was almost entirely Christian—came into being.