Blessed Aquaviva and his Companions were Jesuit priests. He was the son of the Duke of Atri, related to the family of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, and nephew of Claud Aquaviva, the fifth general of the Jesuits. He was admitted at the age of eighteen, in 1568, and after being ordained priest at Lisbon was sent to Goa, in India. Father Aquaviva was one of the two chosen for the mission at Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra, and he worked till 1583 in strenuous efforts to convert Akbar and his subjects, but had no success. He was then put in charge of the Salsette mission, north of Bombay. He and four companions, Father Pacheco, Father Berno, Father Francisco and Brother Aranha, together with other Christians, set out for Cuncolim, the heart of Hindu opposition in that mission, intending to choose there a piece of ground for a church and to plant a cross thereon. They were met with armed force by the villagers. Blessed Rudolf and Blessed Alfonso were killed praying for their murderers, and the other two priests were likewise slain outright. Blessed Francis was left for dead, but found living the next day; he was given a chance to venerate an idol, and on refusing was tied to a tree and shot with arrows. It was not till 1741 that Pope Benedict XIV declared the martyrdom proved, and even then the formal beatification did not take place till 1893. Their feast day is July 27th.
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By Justin Soutar
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