Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Short Cuts

Image of St. Otranto Martyrs ~ Antonio Primaldo


Feastday: August 14

Patron of Otranto

Death: 1480

Beatified By: December 14, 1771 by Pope Clement XIV

Canonized By: May 12, 2013, Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis

Saint Antonio Primaldo and the Martyrs of Otranto

Antonio Primaldo was martyred in 1480 by Ottoman invaders after he refused along with approximately 800 others, to convert to Islam. Primaldo will be beautified and elevated to sainthood in a ceremony on May 12, 2013 by Pope Francis.

In 1480, an Ottoman force arrived by sea in the southern tip of the Italian boot, at the town of Otranto. Ontranto at that time was a small, fortified town of about 6,000 inhabitants.

The Ottomans immediately attacked the town, bombarding it indiscriminately. The asked for the town's surrender the next day, which was summarily refused. Thus scorned, the Ottomans resumed their bombardment compelling the civilians to retreat into the small citadel there.

That retreat and the subsequent entry into the town by the Ottoman invaders, initiated a 15-day siege during which the inhabitants remained steadfast.

A final assault was ordered on the citadel by the Ottoman commander, Gedik Ahmed Pasha. That assault broke through the defenses and subsequently all men over the age of 15 were slaughtered. The women and children were enslaved.

A number of people still managed to survive and escape and took refuge in the local cathedral to pray with their elderly archbishop, Stefano Pendinelli. Pasha entered the cathedral and demanded their conversion to Islam. All refused and most were immediately beheaded.

On August 14, about 800 survivors including Antonio Primaldo were bound with ropes and transported to a local hilltop where they were to be executed, their families compelled to watch and even assist in the killings.

Primaldo was the first victim and was beheaded whilst standing. Legend says his body remained standing, and despite efforts to push it over, remained upright until the last victim was killed. This miracle was said to cause the conversion of an Ottoman officer called Bersabei, who became Christian. For this conversion, he was impaled by his own men.

The other 800 martyrs were systematically killed by beheading.

The following year, on October 13, the bodies of the buried martys were discovered to be uncorrupted, showing no signs of decay. This was regarded as a great sign and the bodies were transferred to the city's cathedral. Some of the bodies were taken to Naples and buried under the altar of Our Lady of the Rosary in the church of Sant Caterina a Formiello.

The town of Otranto was eventually recaptured by an army led by Alfanso of Aragon, son of the king of Naples.

The remains of the martyrs were later moved to a reliquary chapel and are now housed under an altar there.

In subsequent years, several miracles have been attributed to Primaldo and the martyrs. The canonical process to beautify the 800, including Primaldo, began in 1539 and ended only in 1771, demonstrating the slow, careful pace at which the Church declares persons to be saints.

They were beautified by Pope Clement XIV on December 14, 1771.

The martyrs and Primalso will be canonized on May 13, 2013 by Pope Francis.

Notably, the announcement of their canonization came from Pope Benedict during the same presentation where he announced his retirement from the papacy.

The only known reference to him is via a book written by Odo of Cluny who lived from 879-942 and who never met Gerald. Odo however wrote that he did extensive research into Gerald's life and concluded that he was in fact, a saint.

During the course of his investigation into Gerald's life, Odo confessed that there were many reasons to doubt Gerald's sainthood. Chief among them was that Gerald was not a member of an established order of clergy, but rather lived his life as a wealthy, lay noble.

Gerald was known for being chronically ill throughout his life, possibly suffering from severe acne which left his face scarred and he became blind in his later years.

Despite these physical concerns, Gerald was regarded as a kind and merciful noble, showing mercy to convicts and kindness to the poor. His desire was to become a monk, however his noble obligations made such a transition difficult.

Motivated by faith, Gerald sought to donate his lands to the Pope, but was dissuaded by his friend, Bishop Gausbert of Rodez, who persuaded him that he could do the most good by living a pious life in private and serving the needs of his people in public. Gerald did so.

Gerald shaved a small spot on his head as well as his beard, and concealed his private devotion to the Church so that he could retain public credibility and authority. During his time, Papal authority was waning and secular forces conspired to consolidate power away from the lesser nobility.

Gerald also took a private vow of chastity. He never married and produced no children. He spent considerable time in daily, devotional prayer.

Eventually, Gerald was able to make a pilgrimage to Rome and donate some of his lands to the Church. He also established a church and a monastery on his lands, which he deliberately established in such a way as to make the monastery independent of all control except Rome's.

Gerald was a model noble, bridging the gap between religious virtue and secular authority. He showed others that it is possible to wield power and wealth while living a pious and righteous life. The skeptical Odo eventually concluded that Gerald had in fact, become a saint upon his death.

St. Gerald's feast day is October 13. He is the patron saint of bachelors, counts, and the disabled, as well as the Upper Auvergne region of France where he lived.

More about St. Otranto Martyrs ~ Antonio Primaldo from Wikipedia

St. Otranto Martyrs ~ Antonio Primaldo Comments

More Saints

Browse Saints by Category

Popular Saints




Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Kateri Tekakwitha

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, Virgin, was canonized on 10/21/2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas, called "of Bari", Bishop of Myra (Fourth Century) 6 Dec. Feast day. The great veneration with which this saint has been honored for many ages and the number of ... continue reading | shop

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Pelagia

St. Pelagia

Pelagia, more often called Margaret, on account of the magnificence of the pearls for which she had so often sold herself, was an actress of Antioch, equally celebrated for her beauty, her wealth and ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day by E-Mail

Saint of the Day newsletter icon

Learn about the lives of the saints and other saint resources, including a calendar, over 5,000 saint biographies, our most popular saints, and a list of patron saints. 7 days / week. See Sample


Female Saints

Image of St. Barbara

St. Barbara

Barbara lived in the 4th century and brought up as a heathen. A tyrannical father, Dioscorus, had kept her jealously secluded in a lonely tower which he had built for that purpose. Here, in her forced solitude, she gave herself to prayer and study, and contrived to ... continue reading

More Female Saints

Saint Calendar
Saint Feast Days
Saint Fun Facts


Image of St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel - Feast day - September 29th The name Michael signifies "Who is like to God?" and was the warcry of the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against satan and his followers. Holy Scripture describes St. Michael as "one of the chief ... continue reading

Image of St. Gabriel, the Archangel

St. Gabriel, the Archangel

The name Gabriel means "man of God," or "God has shown himself mighty." It appears first in the prophesies of Daniel in the Old Testament. The angel announced to Daniel the prophecy of the seventy weeks. His name also occurs in the apocryphal book of Henoch. He was the ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts

Saints Fun Facts for St. Ava

St. Ava

Ava was the daughter of King Pepin. She was cured of blindness by St. Rainfredis, became a Benedictine nun at Dinart, Hainault, and later was elected Abbess. Her feast day is April 29th. continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

Founder of the Franciscan Order, born at Assisi in Umbria, in 1181. In 1182, Pietro Bernardone returned from a trip to France to find out his wife had given birth to a son. Far from being excited or ... continue reading

Christian Saints & Heroes

Image of St. Therese of Lisieux

Jennifer Hartline: Trying to Learn Humility From St. Therese

By Jennifer Hartline

St. Therese helps me understand: "the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy.if all flowers wanted to be roses, nature would lose her springtime beauty, and the ... continue reading

More Christian Saints & Heroes


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Malachi 3:13-20
13 'You have said harsh things about me, says Yahweh. ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6
1 How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 11:5-13
5 He also said to them, 'Suppose one of you has a ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 8th, 2015 Image

St. Pelagia
October 8: Pelagia, more often called Margaret, on account of the ... Read More