50th Anniversary Of The Canonization Of St. Nicholas (Nikola) Tavelic
St. Nicholas (Nikola) Tavelić and his brethren: Franciscans martyred
for their love of God and their neighbours
In their time, the novelty of preaching the Gospel to the whole world was embraced and fulfilled by St. Francis of Assisi and his followers, named Franciscans after him, who combined the monastic lifestyle with openness to the world, extending the boundaries of their work from Assisi, Italy and Europe to the farthest reaches of the world. On this path, eight centuries long, they met their fair share of troubles. Obstacles notwithstanding, buoyed by the missionary zeal and the elation of the Holy Spirit, free of all earthly dependencies, these traveling preachers only ever wanted to spread the Gospel. After the first Franciscan martyrs in Morocco in 1220, a number of cases of persecution of Christians and preachers of the Gospel were recorded, including cruel torture. This was the fate of Nicholas (Nikola) Tavelić, a native of Šibenik and the first Croatian canonized saint.
Born in Šibenik around 1340, St. Nicholas joined the Franciscans in his home town and served as a missionary in Bosnia for a while. With three of his brethren, Stephen of Cuneo (Stefano da Cuneo), an Italian, and Peter of Narbonne and Deodatus Aribert of Rodez, both French, St. Nicholas travelled to the Holy Land, where he prepared a speech in the defence of the Christian faith, and delivered it before the Qadi of Jerusalem. Ordered to take back their words, all four resolutely refused and were executed and martyred as a result on 14 November 1391. The group was canonized by Pope Paul VI on 21 June 1970.
The Croatian Franciscan Province of St. Jerome, the Diocese of Šibenik, and the Croatian National Shrine of St. Nicholas (Nikola) Tavelić in Šibenik organized a number of activities in memory and in celebration the 50th anniversary of his canonization.
Nicholas and his brethren accepted the Christ’s commandment of love, rose above the base instincts of hatred, intolerance and violence, and proved the greatest love for their neighbours by becoming martyrs. With his testimony founded in the Gospel, Nicholas’ message will remain relevant for eternity.
Friar Ivan Bradarić
Rector of the Croatian National Shrine of St. Nicholas (Nikola) Tavelić in Šibenik