1. Giuseppe Ambrosoli b. 1923 in Italy. As a medical student, during the Second World War, he dedicated himself to smuggling Jewish people into safety in Switzerland. He finished his studies in Milan and London, before entering the Comboni Missionary order and being ordained a priest in 1955 by the Archbishop of Milan, who would later become (Saint) Pope Paul VI. He served as a priest and a doctor & surgeon in Uganda, founding hospitals and clinics, with special care for those with leprosy. He often said that “I am Christ’s servant for people suffering.” He died in 1987 of kidney disease, aged 63.
2. Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos b. 1962 in Brazil. Known as ‘Cris’ at school, she was a devout Catholic and joined the Young Vincentians and set her heart on going on to study medicine and eventually become a paediatrician to care for poor children in Africa. In 1982, when aged 20, she and her brother Roberto moved into a flat which was close to the college where she would start her studies. She asked a local and recommended joiner to make a wardrobe for her, and he became infatuated with her. After telling him she was not interested, he attempted to rape her and ended up killing her.
3. Henri Planchant, Ladislas Radigue, Polycarpe Tuffier, Marcelino Rouchouze, Frézal Tardieu, all killed on the 26th May 1871 by the Communards, the supporters of the French revolutionary government that seized power for 72 days that year. Over 200 clergy & Religious were arrested, and in the end about 110 priests, including the Archbishop of Paris, were executed, as well as many others identified with the previous regime, such as gendarmes. Two-thirds of the churches in Paris were closed, looted, vandalized or turned into prisons, workshops or meeting rooms for political clubs. In 2017, Father Planchat’s body was exhumed from the church of Notre-Dame de la Salette and was found to be intact, although riddled with bullets. He died without trial, with his eyes open and turned toward heaven, after devoting all his energies to working alongside the workers and their families in the working-class neighbourhoods of Grenelle and Charonne.
4. Maria Concepción Barrecheguren García b. 1905 in Grenada, Spain. From an early age, she suffered from bad health, which prevented her from attending school, but she was home-educated by her religious, educated and wealthy parents. She had a significant devotion to St Therese of Lisieux, and despite extreme illness she managed to make a pilgrimage to her shrine. She became totally dependent on home care, and everyone who knew her would testify to her joy, faith and patience, especially when receiving Holy Communion. She died in 1927, aged 21.
5. Jacinto Vera b. 1813 in the middle of the Atlantic ocean on a boat sailing from his parents’ home in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, to a new life in Uruguay, where they set up a farm. He joined the Jesuit order and was ordained a priest in Buenos Aires in Argentina in 1841 and became a popular and admired priest, known for his sharp and cheerful character. 18 years later he was appointed by the Pope to lead the church in Montevideo in Uruguay, and he toured the country on a mission, eventually becoming a bishop and continuing to evangelise the whole country. He died in 1881 while on a missionary trip, aged 67.
6. Elisabetta Martinez b. 1905 in the extreme south of Italy, known as Elisa. She founded the Religious Community called “Daughters of St Mary of Leuca” – named after a shrine to Our Lady near to where she was from. She died in 1991 aged 85. In 2017, the family of an unborn baby girl in Rimini, Italy, prayed for her intercession when an ultrasound scan revealed to the child’s mother that her baby was suffering from several severe life-limiting and potentially life-ending conditions, including thrombosis, extensive placental infarction, and severe fetal growth retardation. The girl was born healthy on the 19th March 2018.
7. Józef and Wiktoria Ulma and Their Seven Children. They were a family from the south-east of Poland, who during the Nazi occupation in the Second World War attempted to rescue Polish Jewish families by hiding them in their own home. As a consequence, they were all executed on the 24th March 1944. Their murder was supposed to be a warning to all others, but their neighbours continued to hide Jewish refugees until the end of the war. Jozef was an active member of the Catholic Youth Association and worked as a market gardener, growing fruit trees and raising bees and silkworms. After marrying Wiktoria, they earned a living as farmers, and were dedicated to their local parish and to the Living Rosary Association. Their children were Stanisława, Barbara, Władysław, Franciszek, Antoni, and Maria. Wiktoria was 8-months pregnant when she was killed and gave birth in the trauma as she died. Their children were forced to watch their execution before being killed themselves.
8. Giuseppe Beotti, b. 1912 in northern Italy from a poor family. He was ordained a priest in 1938, and while serving in a parish in the city of Bardi in 1944 the Germans invaded. He spoke frequently and loudly against the atrocities that resulted, helping the efforts to resist the occupation, take care of fugitive soldiers, and help about 100 Jewish people to evade the Nazis. In July 1944 at Sunday Mass he said, “If there is still a sacrifice left to stop this war, Lord, take me!” He was taken away during the night that week and shot, along with another priest and a seminarian. He was aged 31, and died while making the Sign of the Cross and holding his breviary close to his chest.