Maria Tuci, one of 38 Albanian martyrs who were brutally executed under the country's former Communist regime, offers a classic example of what St John Paul II called the "genius of women," writes Ines A. Murzaku at Crux.
On July 13, 2016, Albania's Bishops (all nine of them) received a decree from Pope Francis announcing the conclusion of the canonical process that recognised "the testimony of martyrdom to faith and country" of 38 Albanian martyrs, including 37 men and one woman, Maria Tuci.
Modern women martyrs like Tuci, coming from a tiny country in the Balkans, who paid the ultimate price for their faith, have the power and the charisma to inspire and transform lives by their examples.
A one-time postulant of the Stigmatine Sisters of Shkodër, Tuci (1928-1950) was arrested in 1949 when she was teaching at an elementary school run by the Sisters. She a died a martyr's death the following year at the age of 22. In prison, she was brutally tortured for her faith and religious vocation, humiliated, and sexually assaulted by the prison guards.
She was threatened by one of the guards in these terms: "I will reduce you to a state that even your family members would not be able to recognise you." That's exactly what happened.
Resisting to the end, she was closed in a tied sack with a street cat that the guards beat continuously with a stick. Tuci was brutally scratched and bitten. Puncture wounds from cat bites are usually very deep, sending bacteria deep into flesh, and if not immediately cured the infection can be lethal.
After days of brutal torture, Tuci was admitted to hospital, disfigured with bumps and blisters all over her body. She died an agonising death on October 24, 1950, holding a rosary in her hands.
"I thank God because he gave me the force to die free," she said.
Despite terrible torture, she did not betray her faith and personal dignity. She forgave her tormentors and the prison guards.
In effect, Tuci is "the modern St Agnes, who forgave the persecutors and desired for reconciliation between victims and perpetrators" said Massafra in an interview with La Stampa/Vatican Insider.