Twenty years after the historic visit by Pope St. John Paul II to the “Garden of the Mother of God”, Pope Francis visited Romania from 31 May to 2 June. The motto of the visit was “Let’s Walk Together”.

The highlight of this Papal visit was the beautification of seven Greek-Catholic bishop-martyrs who were victims of the communist regime and died in prison after refusing to renounce their faith.

The Holy Father described their lives as “an exemplary faith and love” saying they gave their lives “to oppose an illiberal ideological system that oppressed the fundamental rights of the human person.”

“These pastors, martyrs for the faith, reappropriated and handed down to the Romanian people a precious legacy,” he said.

Pope Francis also honored the thousands of Romanian Catholics who were imprisoned, killed or otherwise persecuted by the country’s Communist era authorities.

“With great courage and interior fortitude, they accepted harsh imprisonment and every kind of mistreatment, in order not to deny their fidelity to their beloved church,”

The seven bishops Francis beatified  were Valeriu Traian Frentiu, Vasile Aftenie, Ioan Suciu, Alexandru Rusu, Ioan Balan, Tit Liviu Chinezu and Iuliu Hossu.

The Papal visit also had a strongly ecumenical and Marian accent as Pope Francis devoted as much time as possible to meeting the Catholic community and also held a special meeting with the representatives of the Romanian Church United with Rome. In the city of Blaj, the historic seat of the Greek-Catholic Church, the Holy Father also celebrated the Divine Liturgy in the Byzantine rite.