SHKODRA, Albania, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 04th Nov, 2016 ) - They were tortured to death, fatally strung up by their feet, shot or thrown into quicksand. Now, more than 30 years after their deaths, 38 Albanian Catholics killed under the isolated Communist regime of dictator Enver Hoxha are to be beatified -- a step on the path to sainthood. Vatican officials will join the Balkan country's small Catholic community on Saturday to remember their martyrs at a cathedral mass in the northwestern city of Shkodra, whose cemetery was the scene of executions.
"Faith in Christ was our only glimmer of hope in the life of Communist hell," said Father Ernest Simoni, who spent nearly two decades doing forced labour in prison and in the fields. The 88-year-old clergyman will on November 19 become only the second Albanian to become a cardinal. Initially condemned to death for celebrating a mass in memory of slain US president John F. Kennedy, he instead was forced to toil and eventually escaped the brutal repression during prisoner unrest in 1973. Two-thirds of his sentence was spent in pyrite mines in the deserted Albanian mountains, more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) north of Tirana.