The Pope beatified 498 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War on Sunday, the largest number ever beatified as a group.  Some agencies have covered the story from a base and unfair political angle.  Zenit, on the other hand, emphasized the core of the Pope’s message; the modern opportunity for martyrdom  in what Fr. Hardon referred to as “our Age of Martyrs”:

After noting the beatification of 498 Spanish martyrs, Benedict XVI affirmed that all Christians should be ready to give their lives for Christ.

The Pope said this today before leading the midday Angelus, and after the largest beatification ceremony in the history of the Church, held today in St. Peter’s Square. In the celebration, presided over by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, the Church recognized as blessed 498 martyrs from the religious persecution in 1930s Spain.

The Holy Father said, “Adding such a great number of martyrs to the list of beatified persons shows that the supreme witness of giving blood is not an exception reserved only to some individuals, but a realistic possibility for all Christian people. It includes men and women of different ages, vocations and social conditions, who pay with their lives in fidelity to Christ and his Church.”

The Pontiff said that fidelity to Christ, even to the point of giving one’s life, is rooted in baptism.

“Their example gives witness to the fact that baptism commits Christians to participate boldly in the spread of the Kingdom of God, cooperating if necessary with the sacrifice of one’s own life,” he said. “Certainly not everyone is called to a bloody martyrdom. There is also an unbloody ‘martyrdom,’ which is no less significant, such as that of Celina Chludzinska Borzecka, wife, mother, widow and religious, beatified yesterday in Rome: It is the silent and heroic testimony of many Christians who live the Gospel without compromises, fulfilling their duty and dedicating themselves generously in service to the poor.

“This martyrdom of ordinary life is a particularly important witness in the secularized societies of our time. It is the peaceful battle of love that all Christians, like Paul, have to fight tirelessly; the race to spread the Gospel that commits us until death. May Mary, Queen of Martyrs and Star of Evangelization, help us and assist us in our daily witness.”