Friday, December 05, 2008
The long history of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land includes many martyrs, the first among whom are St. Nicholas Tavelic and companions. In 1335 the Friars Minor were at the 'coenaculum' and in 1342 Clement VI formally instituted the Custody of the Holy Land. The friars soon were officiating the 'coenaculum', the Holy Sepulchre and Bethlehem. In 1391 four friars died as martyrs, as Gerald Calvet of Aquitaine, Guardian of Mt. Zion, wrote and confirmed in a letter. Their names were Nicholas Tavelic, Adeodat of Rodez, Peter of Narbonne and Stephen of Cuneo. Tavelic was of Croatian origin, the son of a noble family of Dalmatia. He was probably born in 1340. After a period in the missions of Bosnia, as a Friar Minor, he was sent to the Holy Land Custody in 1383. After learning the Arab language, together with his companions, he decided to preach the Gospel to the Moslems of the holy city of Jerusalem. On 11 November 1391 the friars went to the temple mount, which was, and still is, a holy place to the Moslems. That day happened to be the Islamic festival of Bairam. The friars were expelled from the mosque, and taken to the house of the cadi or magistrate, where they preached the Gospel. After being mercilessly beaten they were thrown into prison. On 14 November they were taken out of prison to their place of execution, where they were massacred by the mob and their remains thrown into the fire.