Some of the most beautiful pages of the History of the Church are doubtlessly those written with the blood of the Martyrs who, giving their lives for love of Jesus Christ, received from the hands of their executioners both the death of their mortal bodies and the everlasting glory of immolating themselves for the One who had rescued them on the Cross. Defenseless children, heroic virgins, robust men, venerable ancients, throughout the ages and in all places, have heard the summons to give a resplendent and moving testimony to the power of the Gospel.
A memorable page of Church History was written in the lands of Andalucia, around the year 850, when the Iberian Peninsula was suffering under the yoke of the Crescent. A certain priest, Perfecto by name, who had been born of Christian parents in Cordoba, was questioned by two Muslims regarding his opinion of Mohammed and of Christ. The valiant priest clearly proclaimed his faith regarding Christ, the Son of God, but preferred to withhold any comment on Mohammed. At the insistence of his listeners, and receiving their word that he would be saved harmless, he finally told what he thought (and what they would have preferred not to hear) about Allah’s prophet. In a short time, Perfecto was denounced, arrested, and after two months of torture, condemned to death by decapitation.
The date chosen for the execution was the solemn Muslim feast which follows Ramadan. Perfecto reached the banks of the Guadalquivir River led by his assassins, and used the platform where he would be executed as his pulpit for a last sermon about Jesus Christ and the truth regarding Mohammed and the Koran. History followed its course, and Perfecto received the palm of martyrdom. But let’s imagine that at the moment the executioner was to give the mortal blow, a shout from the crowd were to stop the deadly scimitar in mid-air, and someone were to rush forward and say: ‘Perfecto, think it over, what are you going to die for? Say that you adore Allah, and that you accept his prophet, and everything is solved. Don’t Catholics and Muslims adore one and the same God, who is just and the creator of all things? Isn’t he the same God?’
What would our martyr have thought of such words? Could the holy, just and merciful God that his parents had taught him to love, and whose marvelous deeds he had learned about in Bible History be the same as the one in whose name he would now be killed? Were all of his sufferings because of his fidelity to the true God in vain? Was he dying merely because of a question of names? Is it true that Catholics and Muslims adore the same God?
The answer to these questions was immediate for Saint Perfecto, who, closing his eyes to this vale of tears, and opening them to eternity understood everything when he beheld his glorious Redeemer awaiting him to reward him for his courageous witness. It will be the same Jesus who answers these questions for us, through the voice of the Magisterium, the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church. Denzinger Bergoglio has more…