By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service
KRAKOW, Poland (CNS) — Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop at a church in Krakow to venerate the relics of two Polish Conventual Franciscans killed by insurgents in Peru in 1991.
The pope also recited a prayer for peace and protection from violence and terrorism at St. Francis Church in Krakow July 30 before heading to the World Youth Day prayer vigil.
Blesseds Zbigniew Strzalkowski, 33, and Michal Tomaszek, 30, were killed Aug. 9, 1991, near their mission at Pariacoto in the Andes Mountains, after they were abducted during Mass by a group of Maoist Shining Path guerrillas.
Accused of impeding their armed struggle, the guerrillas shot and stabbed the priests along with the local mayor of the city on a road.
The militants launched an armed struggle against the government in 1980, hoping to establish a communist dictatorship in Peru. However, the movement began to fade in 1992 after their leader was arrested.
Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of the priests Feb. 3, 2015, along with that of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. The Franciscans were beatified in Peru Dec. 5, along with Blessed Alessandro Dordi, a diocesan priest from Bergamo, Italy, killed by the Peruvian insurgents soon after their murder.
According to a Vatican statement, several of the martyrs’ relatives were present during the pope’s visit along with members of the Franciscan community.
After venerating the relics of the Polish martyrs, the pope recited a prayer "to keep in peace the world and its people, to keep far away from it the devastating wave of terrorism."
Remembering the victims of "these acts of inhuman violence," including young and old people, the pope implored God to "heal their bodies and hearts" and to "take away any hatred and a desire for revenge."
He also prayed so that the hearts of terrorists may be touched "so that they may recognize the evil of their actions."
Pope Francis invoked the examples of the Polish martyrs who gave witness to the Gospel and entrusted the world to Mary’s intercession.
"We ask for the gift of peace and of the elimination from our midst of the sore of terrorism," he prayed.
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