Journal of eISSN: 2373-6445 JPCPY

Psychology & Clinical Psychiatry
Volume 5 Issue 3 - 2016
The Catholic Martyrs of The Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History- A Review Article
Dr. Samuel A Nigro M.D*
Retired, Assistant Clinical Professor Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, USA
Received: October 15, 2015 | Published: January 27, 2016
*Corresponding author: Dr. Samuel A Nigro M.D, Retired, Assistant Clinical Professor Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 2517 Guilford Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118, USA, Tel: 216 932-0575; Email:
Citation: Nigro SA (2016) The Catholic Martyrs of The Twentieth Century: A Comprehensive World History- A Review Article. J Psychol Clin Psychiatry 5(3): 00273. DOI: 10.15406/jpcpy.2016.05.00273


God made us to know, love and serve Him in this world so we could be with Him in the next.

—Baltimore Catechism

To read this book is to be astounded at the courage of Catholics. But first, a brief digression from martyrdom to cowardice. Described is Alfred Rosenberg as the chief "theologian" for Adolf Hitler. Rosenberg's job was to rephrase the New Testament into pro-Nazi ideas. Reading about Rosenberg made me think of many of today's non-martyr bishops and priests, including many Vatican H deformers. Those bishops and priests who march to the contemporary tune of the liberal press and media would clearly have groveled for Hitler. Such is the case for those who make nice by selling their soul. One cannot read this book without realizing what a despicable lot so many of our bishops, priests and other leaders (McBrien, Curran,Mahony, Weaklan—none ever confused with Stepinac of Yugoslavia, Mindzenty of Hungary,  Popicluszko of Poland or Agostino el Nur of Sudan). Unable to face down the mega press and media by remaining faithful to Rome, most liberal bishops and priests have confused "loving your enemies" with "sycophantic toadyism," or maybe it is just cowardice. (It cannot be ignorance because they all know what Rome expects of them.) Just call them "Rosenbergers." The worst thing about Catholics is "bad Catholics."

Robert Royal's book, Catholic Martyrs of the 20th Century (New York: Crossroads, 2000), is not about them. In contrast, almost all of this book describes what real bishops, real priests, as real Catholics did during the persecutions  in Mexico, Spain, France,  Ukraine, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Albania, Romania, China, Africa, Korea, Eastern and Central Europe, Sudan and any Islamic country. To read The Catholic Martyrs of the 20th Century is to be embarrassed and mortified. The incredible heroism and faithfulness makes one shrink to minuteness. One quivers with guilt-ridden empathy at what those men and women did—the thousands of priests, nuns and laymen (male and female) who stood up for their faith against outrageous assaults and terrible tortures in the 20th Century.

There is Father Miguel Pro courageously proclaiming "Viva Cristo Rey" ("Long Live Christ the King") at his firing squad execution. He was one of the thousands of priests and religious Catholic supporters who were murdered during the 80 years of secular suppression in Mexico during which the American government supported the murderous tyrannical Federales but denied support to the suffering Catholics.

The story of the youth Nijole Sadunaite of Lithuania demonstrates pre-Vatican II at its best and the Soviets at their worst.

A nun in Soviet Russia proclaims during her tortures: "I am a Catholic and I boast of it—a Dominican and proud! You have no right to condemn me for this because God is not head of a political party and because the teachings of Jesus Christ are not a political program, but a program of love and mercy?'

The sheer number of Soviet imprisonments is staggering and it included many Catholics. By 1934, the 3,300 Catholic churches and 2,000 chapels on Russian soil had been reduced to two active churches, primarily meant to serve  foreigners  as  a  public  demonstration  that Catholicism supposedly existed in Russia. The Catholic population along the Black Sea of 200,000 disappeared. Estimates of the number of prisoners overall in the Soviet Union begin at 19 million and at least 40% died as a minimum number. Catholic monasteries were replaced in the Solovetski Islands by Russian camps consecrating these once sacred islands as a massive Catholic burial ground.

In 1941, 250,000 religious people were killed by the Soviets as they retreated when the Nazis invaded Ukraine. When the Nazis arrived, their extermination began where the Soviets left off. The Nazis were more anti-Catholic than anyone ever realized. More than 8,000 priests were killed by the Nazis with thousands incarcerated in camps. Father Andrew Graff Sheptytskyi, of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, worked against the Nazis in the 1940s to maintain a Church independent of any worldly power. He protested to Hitler about the Gestapo and protected persecuted Jews. When he visited towns and villages where Jews were living, the Jews greeted him by carrying the Scrolls as a sign of their respect. Sister Maria Restituta was a nurse-nun arrested after the doctor in her operating room accused her of "dangerous language?' meaning she expressed some opposition to Naziism. After 8 months of abuse, she remained openly faithful: "I live for Christ and I die for Christ." So they took her out and shot her. Often the camps heard the following command: "Jews and priests" are to do this or that or to fall out of their columns for special unpleasant treatment. "Jews and priests" were always coupled together because in the eyes of camp authorities, one could not be worse than to be a Jew or a priest—or a committed Catholic. Over 3 million Polish Catholics died at Auschwitz before it was used for the murder of Jews. The response from Pope Pius XI's 1937 encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge, was greeted with such suppression by the Nazis that the good Pope could only say: "There is but one alternative left, that of heroism?' I suspect that half of the American bishops ("Rosenbergers"?) do not know what he was talking about. Then there is German Bishop Clemens August von Galen exhorting all to struggle against the Nazis. During a sermon about protecting children from the Nazis, someone stood up and shouted out, "What right does a celibate, without wife or children, have to talk about the problems of youth and marriage?" Von Galen wittingly reposted: "Never will I tolerate in this cathedral any negative reflection on our beloved Fuhrer!"

Then there is Franz Jagerstatter, who wanted nothing to do with "the Nazi gang." They tortured him and used the guillotine having him face up to watch the blade at his death. Knowing right from wrong, knowing truth, oneness, good and beauty, he could do that. Pathetic that so many of our clergy, bishops, leaders and lay people do not_But the actual number of the thousands of Catholic priests, nuns and laymen murdered by the Nazis will never be known.

After World War II, the Soviets once again took over murdering Catholics. There is Joseph Slippyi, Ukrainian Bishop, who was sent from one Soviet Gulag to another for years of incredibly hard camp life, torture and suffering—his strength was such that the Soviets laughably tried to tempt him in 1959 with an offer to make him the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow if he agreed to break with Rome. He preferred to stay in the Gulag and in exile. By 1949, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, with 4 dioceses, 8 bishops, 2,772 parishes, 4,119 churches and chapels, 142 monasteries and chapels, 2,628 diocesan priests, 164 monks, 773 nuns, 229 seminarians and over 4 million lay people, was liquidated or disbursed and all Catholicism was gone. At the same time, the Uniates of Ukraine (who were part of the Roman Catholic Church) lost at least ten million dead to the Soviets.

In 1896, the Turks massacred Christians in the vicinity of a Trappist Monastery  in Algeria. Over 140,000 Christians died within a few months by the order of the Sultan. In one town, 4,500 Christians died in two days.

The saintly Charles D. Foucald himself was murdered by a 15 year old Islamic madman. (The inability of Islamic people to tolerate anyone different from themselves is an incontrovertible sign of inferiority, if not satanism.)

Spain was the site of new catacombs of the 20th century. British historian Hugh Thomas is quoted: "At no time in the history of Europe, or even perhaps of the world, has so passionate a hatred of religion and all its works been shown." He was referring, of course, to the Spanish Republicans supported by the communists (and Americanliberals) against Franco (who was not a fascist regardless of liberal idiotic statements to the contrary). The Spanish Civil War resulted in the death of over 6,800 priests and religious, 13 bishops, and probably 800,000 Catholic laymen. Liberal Americans still celebrate their despicable role in all this.

Catholics and other Christians in Asian countries were incredibly faithful and martyr-like in overwhelming numbers. The chapter called "The Chinese Carnage" begins in 1900 with the Boxer Rebellion when the number of bishops, priests, nuns and lay people killed in China duplicated the number killed in Armenia by the Turks at about the same time. That is, scores of bishops, hundreds of priests and nuns and tens of thousands of Catholics brutally murdered. These numbers were to pale in 1948, when ten times that many would be killed by the Chinese communists.

In the last decade of the 20th Century, the Islamic government of the Sudan has murdered over 2 million Catholics and other Christians and probably enslaved as many. Agostino el Nur, a catechist in Sudan was tortured for four months: nails were driven into his head, his beard was pulled out, he was cut with a knife and his genitals were mutilated with pliers and he was crucified for 24 hours, tied to poles, while lighted cigarettes were put in his ears. Muslims openly threaten: "Convert to Islam or die like Christ."

Robert Royal states:

There is no other group of victims throughout history who so consistently faced terrifying ends with calm hope and sincerely forgave their persecutors. Martyrs rarely ever assume the posture of moral superiority toward their executioners—people that most of us would regard as inhuman monsters. The martyrs are aware of the evil in themselves and the redemption that has come to them from outside the usual human darkness. By the specific dynamics of martyrdom, the desire for vengeance and sense of superiority are ruled out at the beginning (Pg. 389).

Martyrdom comes with Christian joy if one is faithful to the One True Fold ("Rosenbergers" need not apply).

The story of the martyrdom and persecution of Catholics in the 20th century dwarfs all others. What is amazing is the reason for such. The overwhelming question is "Why?" And the answer is that the transcendental commitment of genuine Roman Catholicism as instilled by good bishops and priests convey a matter, identity, truth, oneness, good and beauty enraging to those who cannot do the same. Preaching the transcendentals makes for conflicts with all those unable to follow. The hatred in those who would injure and kill Catholics is a contortion of their unconscious knowing it is impossible to be like real Catholics—to be oyous in the grasp of the hand of God by doing all for a higher value because one is in the Body of Christ, a member of the One True Fold and marching in transcendental freedom. Catholics preach: "We have Loving Truth; there is sin; join us, repent and he free, for God's sake." The hateful anti-Catholics say: "We have hate; since we cannot be like you, join us or die."

In the rough sea of life, the Church plods slowly as a solid edifice afloat and a haven for those who climb aboard...a Salvation Church, a Rescue Vessel. Perpetually, the creaky old, sworn at, besieged, constantly leaking, perpetually ruined, always sinking barque, no bone in its teeth, the Roman Catholic Church, with never less than one-twelfth of its crew in mutiny or incompetent, always enviously rejected with brutal intrusion of violent evil from those unable to accept her eternal basics, just keeps plowing along in the one direction flow of the Divine Substance, rescuing anyone who reaches out a hand, collecting sinners who have finally realized they have intrinsic value and worth in the sight of God and can return to Him in a plan of salvation.

No doubt, this is bewildering to those who would hate Catholics and the Church. But that too is because they are enraged that they are unable to be like genuine committed Catholics. (It is an overly compensated inferiority problem with reaction formation: They resent Catholic standards;   they   deny   sin;   and   they   deny  Catholic achievements, all of which their unconscious wants to identify with. This is an example of most spontaneous hate: The hateful cannot tolerate anyone different so they demand all to be the same; i.e., like "them" when, in the unconscious, their deepest want is to be able to be like those hated).


My review of Catholic martyrdom was begun before discovering Robert Royal's The Catholic Martyrs of the 20th Century. I started this analysis several years before because of the increasingly frequent special consideration given to documented victims such as survivors and relatives of those in the Nazi Holocaust and those related to slaves of over 150 years ago. In fact, there has been an unspoken victimhood contest between the black and the Jewish communities for some time wherein victimhood is used for monetary extortion as well as psychological exploitation by "untouchable," "poor-us," "don't tread on me" intimidation.

However, a factual description of the persecution of Catholics reveals that the Church lost more people and property to the Nazis than Jews ever did. Furthermore, slavery achieves a different perspective when one compares the deaths of 14 million black slaves by Muslims over 14 centuries (such that there are very few blacks left in Muslim countries) to the healthy legacy of 12 million black slaves in the west over four centuries (For example, of approximately 500,000 blacks imported into the United States to be slaves, 35 million exist today in the United States).

The Roman Catholic Church indeed is the most persecuted organization in history. if a victimhood contest is desired for propaganda and self aggrandizement purposes, the Church can even rightfully say it is second to none and that the persecution goes on today even in the United States. While not as brutal as described in this article, the documentation of anti-Catholicism can be readily obtained from the Catholic League of Religious and Civil Liberties. If any group demands or believes reparations are due because of persecution and mistreatment, the Roman Catholic Church should be first in line. For what the Church deserves reparations is readily documented. Inspite of its obvious persecution in the United States, the Catholic Church educates over 2.6 million students annually at a cost of $10 billion dollars saving Americans 18 billion dollars; the Church also provides 230 universitiesand colleges and 637 hospitals. The Church provides for the poor and deprived over $2.3 billion dollars annually.
Lesser but significant contributions have been ongoing for200 years in the United States. For all the Church has done for all countries everywhere, every country owes it a huge amount of reparations.

In spite of persecution ongoing today in more subtle ways than overt martyrdom the barque of St. Peter continues. Jealous, thinking they cannot do it, the persecutors will always be there. But to them and to all those who hate the Church, I say: "Study the Church and find out the truth and love contained therein. Convert. You too can do it! Stop the persecution! You too can do it! You will find no greater joy!"

Finally, a specific set of educational materials needs to be disseminated about the facts of historical anti-Catholic persecution. These materials should be mandatory for all schools, public and private. A museum is needed in Washington, DC. Public monies must be allocated factually to clarify the persecution of Catholics throughout the centuries. There is a precedent for such.

© 2014-2019 MedCrave Group, All rights reserved. No part of this content may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means as per the standard guidelines of fair use.
Creative Commons License Open Access by MedCrave Group is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at
Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox | Google Chrome | Above IE 7.0 version | Opera |Privacy Policy