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. Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony of Padua

Saint Anthony was born Fernando Martins in Lisbon, Portugal. He was born into a wealthy family and by the age of fifteen asked to be sent to the Abbey of Santa Cruz in Coimbra, the then ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Joseph

St. Joseph

Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture and that has seemed too little for those who made up legends about him. We know he was a ... continue reading | shop


Image of St. Jude Thaddaeus

St. Jude Thaddaeus

St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of St. James the Less, and a relative of Our Saviour. He was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus and his attribute is a club. Images of St. Jude ... continue reading | shop

All Popular Saints

Saint of the Day

Image of St. Catherine of Alexandria

St. Catherine of Alexandria

St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr whose feast day is November 25th. She is the patroness of philosophers and preachers. St. Catherine is believed to have been born in Alexandria of a ... continue reading

More Saint of the Day
November 2015

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. Genevieve

St. Genevieve

St. Genevieve was born about the year 422, at Nanterre near Paris. She was seven years old when St. Germain of Auxerre came to her native village on his way to great Britain to combat the heresy of Pelagius. The child stood in the midst of a crowd gathered around the ... 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. Ignatius of Laconi

St. Ignatius of Laconi

Ignatius was the son of a poor farmer in Laconi, Italy. He was born on December 17, 1701. When he was about seventeen, he became very ill. He promised to be a Franciscan if he would get better. But when the illness left him, his father convinced him to wait. A couple ... continue reading

Saints Fun Facts for St. Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena

The 24th child of a wool dyer in northern Italy, St. Catherine started having mystical experiences when she was only 6, seeing guardian angels as clearly as the people they protected. She became a Dominican tertiary when she was 16, and continued to have visions of ... 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

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • The Miracle Prayer HD Video
  • St. John Berchmans: Saint of the Day for Thursday, November 26, 2015
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, November 26, 2015
  • How to balance compassion with security concerns with influx of ...
  • Prayer For Courage HD Video
  • BIGGER THAN ISIS - There's a hidden power behind ISIS and it's so big ...
  • UPDATE: Did the U.S. military actually know they were bombing the ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Daniel 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28
1 King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for his noblemen, a thousand of ... Read More

Psalm, Daniel 3:62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67
62 Bless the Lord, sun and moon, praise and glorify him for ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:12-19
12 'But before all this happens, you will be seized and persecuted; you ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 25th, 2015 Image

St. Catherine of Alexandria
November 25: St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr ... Read More