The Director of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Dr. Harutyun Marutyan awarded a certificate of appreciation to journalist Talal Khrais (a former staff member of Zartonk Daily) for his contribution of valuable historic archival materials.
The materials were discovered in Oriolo Romano, Province of Viterbo, Lazio, during renovation works of a monastery.
The documents relate to Franciscan monk Salvatore Lilli.
The materials consist of historical records, one letter from Father Salvatore addressed to Pope Pius IX (1846-1878), various ecclesiastical and secular officials, recorded testimonies collected during the investigation of the circumstances of Salvatore Lilli’s martyrdom and photographs of witnesses. In those records, Salvatore Lilli, as an eyewitness, also described the repressions carried out by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian population.
Salvatore Lilli, the son of Vincenzo and Annunziata Lilli, was born in Comune di Cappadocia in the L’Aquila province of the Abruzzo region of Central Italy on June 19, 1853. He was baptised on the same day in the parish church dedicated to the Armenian martyr San Biagio (St. Blaise of Sebaste, martyred in 316 in Sebastia). He became a Franciscan monk at a young age in 1870-1871. He went to Asia Minor as a missionary in 1873 and was appointed spiritual leader of Mujukderesi. He was killed by Ottoman soldiers along with seven Armenian companions on November 19, 1895. The local Franciscan congregation had received threats from the Ottoman military authorities for a long time. It had become so dangerous for them to stay in the region that, in one of his letters addressed to Father Dionisio in Marash, Father Salvatore asked for help in taking measures to somehow ensure their safety. Father Salvatore had heard several times that, behind the order issued to the Franciscan congregation and the monastery servants to leave the monastery, there was the intention of secretly killing them somewhere along the journey. In the end, the goal was achieved. Colonel Mazhar Bey set up an army detachment near Mujukderesi and entered the monastery. Father Salvatore told them to take everything they wanted, but to leave the people alive. In response to this, the commander replied, “I came only to take your life.” They began to torture Father Salvatore, injuring his thigh, then repeatedly offered to convert to Islam to him and his companions, who decided not to leave Father Salvatore alone. The latter were mostly servants of the monastery who the Turks decided to transport to Marash roped together. All refused to renounce Christianity and accept Islam.
On October 3, 1982, Pope John Paul II beatified Salvatore Lilli and the seven companions who were martyred with him and November 19 was set as their commemorative and feast day.