Martyr of the Faith 

The life of Fr. Andrea Santoro

Is one of a man in love with Jesus Christ. This Italian priest was born in Priverno, Italy, on September 7, 1945, and ordained in 1970. His love for the Land of Jesus led him to Turkey, the "Land of the Apostles," as he called it.

His missionary zeal in search of souls who did not know Jesus impelled him to join them in the midst of a culture completely different from his own, leading him to a heroic self-forgetfulness. After six years of mission work in Turkey, he was killed on February 5, 2006, in the Church of St. Mary in Trebizond, Turkey.

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Fr. Andrea Santoro

padre Andrea Santoro

Fr. Andrea Santoro felt the call to the priesthood at a very early age, and from that moment on, he showed a great determination and conviction to do great things. In the words of his sister: "Fr. Andrea was a priest to the marrow of his bones." As a young priest, in the eighties, he caught a glimpse of a call to the missions. This restlessness led him to go on a missionary trip to the Holy Land and other countries such as Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. There, he perceived in himself an appreciation of the sacrifice that the holy apostles made in the name of Christ, carrying out the mission He had entrusted to them: "Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature".

As a result of this experience, in the year 2000, he received permission to leave for the Land where the Lord lived, which for him meant living in the "Mother Church," who had gone out from there to the world, and that now—unfortunately at war—needed the Church of Rome. He understood the importance of going on mission to the lands where Jesus lived, where the Apostles proclaimed the Gospel, and where, unfortunately, the Faith was under ashes through persecutions and the destruction of the churches.

During his time in the Holy Land, he discovered the freshness of the Faith and the clarity of his priesthood. Later, he asked to go to Turkey, which he called "The Holy Land of the Apostles," for he had found much suffering there, as well as the need for a greater presence of the Church. In Urfa, where he was, the Christians could not really do anything; they were very limited. He used to say, "Yes, there are Christians, but they cannot expose themselves. There is no open persecution as in other countries, but there is a 'be,' I wouldn’t say submissive, but a 'do what we allow you to do'.

However, instead of posing an obstacle in his apostolic work, this awoke in him a deeper desire to be "Presence of Christ." This desire, for example, led him to found a small newspaper in which he addressed all the faithful to share news and letters, as well as testimonies of those who had been on pilgrimage in those lands, being for him "A window to the Middle East." In this and many other ways, Fr. Andrea worked so that souls would not lose faith and would hope in God, remaining united to the Mystical Body of Christ, the Universal Church.

After six years of mission in Turkey, he was assassinated on February 5, 2006, while leading a Sunday meeting in the Church of St. Mary in Trebizond. With Bible in hand and kneeling in the last pew of the church, he was fatally shot twice in the lungs. After his death, his sister reflected on what teaching he had left her and speaks of seeing in him, "a great and unshakable faith." Many of the faithful testify to seeing fulfilled in his life the words of St. Paul: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." Likewise, many priests who knew Fr. Andrea recognize in him not only great capacities, like being an excellent organizer of the parish, but also very elevated spiritual capacities. His love for Jesus, for the Scriptures, for the Church, was truly great.

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