Antiquarium Arborense - Museo archeologico Giuseppe Pau OristanoAntiquarium Arborense - Museo archeologico Giuseppe Pau Oristano

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Piazza Corrias, 09170 Oristano - Tel: 0783 791262 -

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The protomartyrs of Morocco

The five protomartyrs

9 febbraio 2021

Today we talk about the proto-martyrs represented in the retablo of the Holy Christ, on display at the Antiquarium Arborense.

We don’t know for sure if these panels were the predella (the base of the altarpiece) or the polvaroli (a wooden structure that protects the painting from dust or candle smoke).

Here we see five Franciscan friars, called protomartyrs: Beràrd, Otho, Peter, Accursius and Adjutus. They were the first missionaries sent by Francis to Morocco to promote Christianity; they were expelled twice, but they returned each time and continued to preach until they were killed in 1220 in Marrakesh.

What are the proto-martyrs attributes? They hold a palm leaf, a symbol of victory over sin and death, and the instruments that remind us how they were killed: a sword, a dagger, a saw and a cutlass.

We don’t see pain in their faces, but ecstasy: for them, the martyrdom is not the end of all, rather it is the transit towards immortal life.

Their corpses were transferred to Coimbra, in Portugal, and it was there that Anthony of Padua, who had met them on their way to Morocco, was so impressed by their history that he had the vocation to join the Franciscan Order.


Click here to watch the video about the protomartyrs of Morocco

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The travel of the protomartyrs
Saint Anthony of Padua
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