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Colombian martyrs: witnesses to the point of death


  • A FARC rebel holds a gun at a camp in Conejo, Colombia, Dec. 9, 2016. Pope Francis will beatify Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca and Father Pedro Ramirez Ramos in the South American country Sept. 8. (CNS photo/Ricardo Maldonado Rozo, EPA)
  • People are seen in front of the cathedral in Villavicencio, Colombia, in this 2012 file photo. Pope Francis will beatify Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca and Father Pedro Ramirez Ramos in this city Sept. 8. (CNS photo/Mauricio Duenas, EPA)
  • A man waves a Colombian flag in Bogota, Colombia, in this 2015 file photo. Pope Francis will beatify Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca and Father Pedro Ramirez Ramos in the South American country Sept. 8. (CNS photo/John Vizcaino, Reuters)

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' decree to beatify two Colombian martyrs from two troubled eras in the South American country's history underscores his call for courageous witness amid violence and persecution.

"What does the church need today?" the pope asked earlier this year at an evening prayer service honoring Christians killed under Nazism, communism, dictatorships and terrorism.

"Martyrs and witnesses, those everyday saints, those saints of an ordinary life lived with coherence. But it also needs those who have the courage to accept the grace of being witnesses to the end, to the point of death," he said.

The lives of Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca, who was murdered by Colombian Marxist guerrillas in 1989, and Father Pedro Maria Ramirez, who was killed at the start of the Colombian civil war in 1948, seemingly fit the pope's description.

Their beatification, which will take place during the pope's visit to Colombia Sept. 6-10, comes at a time when the nation focuses on reconciliation after decades of conflict that saw the deaths of more than 200,000 people.

Bishop Jaramillo was among the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives caught in the crossfire of Colombia's 52-year civil war between government forces and guerrilla groups.

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