Skip to main content

Damascus, Martyrs of


A group of eleven martyrs, eight Franciscans and three laymen, put to death for their faith during the night of July 910, 1860, at damascus, Syria (then part of Turkey in Asia), and beatified Oct. 10, 1926. Of the six priests, Engelbert Kolland, aged 33, was Austrian; the others were SpaniardsEmmanuel Ruiz, the superior, 56; Nicholas Alberca, 30; Nicanor Ascanio, 46; Peter Soler, 33; and Carmel Volta, 57. Two were Spanish lay brothersJohn James Fernandez, 52, and Francis Pinazo, 58. The three laymen, natives of Damascus, belonging to the Maronite rite, were Francis Massabki, an important silk merchant, aged over 70; and his two brothers slightly youngerAbd-al-Mūti (Servant of God who gives), and Raphael. The first two were fathers of large families; the last was unmarried.

The Sultan's proclamation (1856) at the end of the Crimean War guaranteeing equality between his Christian and Muslim subjects irritated many Muslims. When news reached Damascus that the druzes of Lebanon had attacked many Christian localities and perpetrated massacres with the complicity of the Ottoman authorities, the populace, roused by government agents and leading citizens, attacked, burned, and pillaged the wealthy Christian quarter, killing about 4,000.

The Franciscans were assailed either in church, where their superior had the opportunity to consume the Sacred Species reserved there, or on the convent terrace, or in the street. After their refusal to apostatize, they were slaughtered. The Massabki brothers, who had taken refuge with them, had received Holy Communion and were praying at the foot of the altar. A Muslim notable who owed Francis 8,000 napoleons proposed to spare all three if only they would embrace Islam. Francis told the Muslim to keep the money, but that he would give his soul to no one. The brothers, thereupon, were martyred.

Feast: July 10.

Bibliography: a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater 3:6870.

[h. jalabert]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Damascus, Martyrs of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . 24 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Damascus, Martyrs of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . (April 24, 2019).

"Damascus, Martyrs of." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved April 24, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.