Damian Thompson raises some good points about the 15th century martyrdom of 800 Catholics in Otranto, Italy at the hands of maniacal Muslim invaders. From the Telegraph:
The cathedral of Otranto in southern Italy is decorated with the skulls of 800 Christian townsfolk beheaded by Ottoman soldiers in 1480. A week tomorrow, on Sunday May 12, they will become the skulls of saints, as Pope Francis canonises all of them. In doing so, he will instantly break the record for the pope who has created the most saints. ...
But the murders really happened, and their significance is immense. The Turks had been sent by Mohammed II, who captured the “second Rome” of Constantinople and planned to do the same to the first. His fleet landed in Otranto, Italy’s easternmost city, and laid siege. The citizens held out for two weeks, allowing the King of Naples to muster his forces. Rome did not fall.
“All of this took place because of the indifference of the political leaders of Europe to the Ottoman menace,” wrote the conservative Italian senator Alfredo Mantovano in an article about the martyrdoms in 2007. You can guess where his argument was heading. “In Otranto, no one displayed rainbow pacifist flags, nor invoked international resolutions… Today Europe is under attack, not by an institutionally organised Muslim phalanx but by a patchwork of non-governmental organisations of fundamentalist Muslims.”
Pope Francis desires warm relations with Islam – so, as I say, I wonder how pleased he was to discover this event in his diary. Already the interfaith lobby is squirming, always a fun sight. But, equally, the Church can’t allow the ceremony to be hijacked by rabble-rousers.