Pope Francis Approves Beatification of Priest Martyred in World War II

Canonization Mass for St. Artemide Zatti and St. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini on Oct. 9, 2022. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Pope Francis on Saturday approved the beatification of a young Italian priest martyred by Nazis during World War II, and advanced the beatification causes of eight other men and women.

Father Giuseppe Beotti was one month shy of his 32nd birthday when he was shot by the Germans after refusing to leave his parish despite threats to his life. “As long as there is a soul to care for, I stay in my place,” he is recorded as saying.

Beotti was born in a small town just south of Naples in 1912. Three years later, his father, a farm laborer, was forced to leave his wife and five children to fight in World War I.

As a young man, Beotti felt called to the priesthood, and despite his family’s lack of financial resources, managed to attend seminary in northern Italy.

He was ordained a priest in 1938 at the age of 25, and two years later he became pastor of the parish church in Sidolo, a tiny town in the Apennine Mountains in northwestern Italy.


As a priest, Beotti always gave away any money or extra clothing he had to the poor. During World War II, he also opened his home to anyone in need, including Jews, wounded soldiers, and partisans.

In the summer of 1944, Sidolo was the site of Operation Wallenstein, a series of partisan roundups by Nazi-Fascist forces. Beotti was killed on July 20, 1944, along with another priest and six others.

He died while holding his breviary and making the sign of the cross.

The pope also gave his approval May 20 for the causes of eight servants of God to proceed on the path to beatification, including 16-year-old Lorena D’Alessandro, who died from a metastasized lung tumor in Rome, Italy, in 1981.

D’Alessandro became disabled at age 12, when her left leg was amputated after two years of fighting a tumor in her tibia. She was an active participant in her parish and became a youth catechist as a teen. She enjoyed singing and playing guitar at Mass and had a strong spirituality.

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In the summer of 1980, D’Alessandro made a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes with other catechists from Rome. There, in prayer, she received a message that she would soon die. She wrote a spiritual testament in which she said goodbye to her family and gave indications for her funeral.

In January 1981, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and given three months to live. She died on April 3, 1981.

Maria Cristina Ogier is another laywoman who was declared venerable by Pope Francis on Saturday. Ogier was born in Florence, Italy, in 1955.

At age four she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Despite her own nearly lifelong illness, Ogier devoted herself to helping the sick.

As a teenager in the 1970s, she felt called to involve herself in the fierce debates happening over abortion in Italy. Together with her father, who was the head of obstetrics and gynecology at a local hospital, they hosted talks in support of unborn life.


These meetings later became the source of Italy’s first “Aid to Life” Center in 1978, which was the inspiration for the national pro-life organization, Movement for Life.

Ogieri died in Rome in 1974 at the age of 19.

Brazilian seminarian Guido Vidal França Schäffer is a third layperson who has taken a step forward on the path to beatification.

Schäffer was a lifelong member of the Catholic charismatic movement Rinnovamento nello Spirito Santo. He would use his love for surfing as an opportunity to befriend other young adults and share the Gospel with them.

He had graduated as a doctor specialized in general medicine when he felt the call to be a priest. Schäffer began seminary studies at the age of 28 while continuing to serve as a voluntary doctor in a medical clinic.

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On May 1, 2009, about a year before the 34-year-old expected to be ordained a priest, he hit his head and drowned while surfing off the coast of Brazil not far from Rio de Janeiro.

The priests and religious sisters who will now be called ‘venerable’ by the Church are: Father Simon Mpeke, also called Baba Simon, a Cameroonian priest (1906-1975); Father Pedro Díez Gil, a Spanish priest of the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools (1913-1983); Italian Sister Edda Roda of the Capuchin Sisters of Mother Rubatto (1940-1996); and Brazilian Sister Tereza Margarida do Coração de Maria, a cloistered nun of the Order of Discalced Carmelites (1915-2005).

Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.