Scroll Top
19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA

In the footsteps of the martyrs of communism (1946-1990)

Way of the Cross





By the care of the Sisters of S.Claire

Monastery “St. Claire”



– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

 “Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen one, in whom I delight:

   I will put my Spirit upon him; he will bring justice to the nations”. (Is 42,1)

 From a letter of Don Steven Kurti

 Dated 16-10-1946 to His Holiness Pope Pious XII

 (Pastor of Tirana. He was arrested two times. The first time in Tirana on 28.10.1946 and was condemned to 20 years of prison, of which he served 17, enclosed in the prison of Burrel. The second time he was arrested in Gurez in 1970, he was imprisoned and a year late was shot).

  “Most Holy Father,

[…] The files of the martyrs are increasing every day; in the prisons, terrible tortures are applied indistinctly to all; thousands of men, women, old people and children, stripped of everything and hungry, are deported to concentration camps, in the most isolated and unhealthy places, in houses with no doors or windows, forced all day to work hard for a single piece of bread. In order to weaken the physical constitution of the prisoners and to make them die from exhaustion and tuberculosis, with a recent order was forbidden to the families to bring them food. Holiness, many other things still remain to say to you, but I have to limit myself writing quickly these lines for fear of being caught in the act of writing. Prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness, I humbly ask your fatherly and apostolic blessing for me, for all the clergy, for all the people, so that we may be supported in this fight without knocking down our faith.”


Jesus, meek and humble of heart, unjustly condemned for our sins: look with goodness to us, because, often blind and insensible, we judge and condemn without appeal so many of our brothers, and grant us your forgiveness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

 “I offered my back to those who beat me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.”(Is 50,6)

From a testimony about father Giovanni Fausti

(Jesuit, was born in Brescia in 1899. He graduated in theology and philosophy, in 1929 he was sent to Shkodër as a professor of the Seminary. Forced to return home in 1932 for health reasons, returned to Albania after ten years as a rector of the Pontifical Seminary of Shkodër. He was arrested on December 31,1945 with Father Danjel Dajani sj. Both were accused of having favored the formation of a group of resistance against communism, in the Seminar. Condemned to death, were shot on March 4, 1946).

A very touching detail reminds us about the Passion of Christ.

Going from the prison to the court, father Fausti was vilified, insulted, and spat upon. And this for several days, until the process lasted.

On one occasion, on the road, a woman broke away from the crowd, she had red eyes with blood and ruffled hair. Suddenly came forward and hoarsely shouted angry: – A bullet in the forehead! -. And with her dirty mouth spat in the face of father Fausti. But the father had a very big spirit. He replied with a greeting moving his head and, following the example of the Divine Master, said: – Forgive her Father, for she does not know what he is doing! -.


Jesus our Lord, who have carried the cross on your innocent shoulders, look at all men who ignore the pain and fatigue of their fellows. Give to all of us to be able to fight and suffer for man’s freedom. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

 ”He was despised, and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised; and we esteemed him not.” (Is 53,3)

 From the testimony of Mons. Frano Illia

(He survived the persecution because his death sentence, together with father Fausti and Father Dajani sj, was commuted to prison and hard labor for life. He was appointed bishop of Shkodër and consecrated by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Albania on April 25,1993. He died in 1998).

 “We were so tired, so exhausted and full with material and spiritual sufferings that during the interrogations we did not know what to say. We were forced to answer: – Yes, yes, all right! -. We agreed with closed eyes to their claims. The judge, of which  I cannot remember his name, was a very arrogant and hard person. He terrified us and yelled: – You are enemies of the people! -. They said that we were spies of the Vatican. With these charges I was sentenced to death. “


Lord Jesus, we pray for all of us that turn to sin again. Look upon all of us with goodness and save us with your compassionate love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


 – We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

 “Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name: ” (Is 49,1)

 From a testimony of Don Giuseppe Marxen

(Priest of German nationality, born in 1906 in the province of Cologne, a missionary in Albania. He was arrested and killed at the age of 40 years old).

Arrested in 1946 by the regime because he was priest and, moreover, foreigner, Don Zef Marxen was locked up in the prison of Tirana. Subjected to atrocious tortures, was executed on charges of being an agent of the Gestapo. One of his fellow prisoners, who survived from the persecution says: “We all that have known him are very sorry for this man. Not only because he was young but also because he was very serious and charitable. He never hesitated to help every sick person and he shared his food ration with the prisoners who needed it most. This man enjoyed the respect of all. His mother in the faraway Germany waited for years his son priest. She could not know that they had killed him without doing any harm to anyone. He had come to serve Albania and was killed without any trial.

In the last days he said to his cell’s mates: – I’m happy because even if I’m dying I will be remembered always by the Albanians as a priest of the faith in Christ! – “.


Give us Jesus, for the prayers of your holy Mother, to imitate her strength in following you on the road to Calvary. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

 “I, The Lord, have called thee in righteousness; and will take hold of your hand. I will keep you, and will make you to be a covenant for the people, for a light for the Gentiles.” (Is 42,6)  

 From a testimony of Don Andrea Zadeja

(Born in Shkodër  in 1891, he studied in Italy and Austria. Ordained as a priest in 1916, was later appointed as a pastor of Sheldi. Known as a great orator, Don Zadeja was also a writer, a poet and a playwright. Accused of having spoken in his homilies against communism, he was arrested and then shot on March 25, 1945, Palm Sunday).

On March 25 1945 they took out of prison Don Ndre Zadeja, with thirteen other companions, to the place of execution. All the prisoners were frightened. His fellow priests, before going out, gave him the blessing through the small door of the prison. Don Ndre knelt together with all the others, in the place of the execution, behind the Catholic cemetery in Shkodër. Don Tom Laçaj approached them for the last absolution. Don Ndre thanked him with these words: “I thank you because you came here to relieve my sufferings.” Soon after, the city of Shkodër could hear the blows of the Kalashnikov who slaughtered fourteen people.


Lord Jesus, teach us to recognize the good of those around us and to perform acts of free charity. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


 – We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

 “Just as there were many who were astonished at him – his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man, and his form marred beyond human likeness.”  (Is 52,14)  

From a testimony of Maria Tuçi

(She was born in 1928. She studied in Shkodër in the Congregation of the Stigmatin Sisters, where she entered as an aspirant. Brave and strong in her convictions of faith, with the coming of communism she took place in the underground resistance group. Together with other young people of Catholic schools and even with some seminarists, she distributed leaflets against the first election-farce of the regime. Very beautiful looking, she opposed herself to the violence that they wanted to make her suffer in prison. For this reason she was subjected to such harsh tortures, that had to be transported to the civil Hospital in Shkodër, where she died on October 24,1950).

On August 10,1949 Maria Tuçi was arrested along with other family members and imprisoned for a year in Shkodër. In prison she was often subjected to interrogation and beaten wildly up to the point that they disfigured her face. Her prison was a hole without neither light nor air. Once a month, through one of her friends, she could have from her mother a change of underwear that she shared with her cell’s mate. A witness said that in the freezing winter’s days, they use to embrace each other to warm up a little. Instead when it rained, the water reached the mattresses that remained soaked for days. Transported to the hospital in serious condition, before she died she said to her friend Divida, who went to visit her: – It came true what Hilmi Seiti (his persecutor)said: “I will turn you in such a state that not even your family will recognize you”! … I thank God that I die free! -.


O Christ our Lord, Image of the Father, help us to recognize you in the faces of our brothers, in their face often disfigured by suffering, grief, disappointment, fear, and help us  to dry their tears with compassion and delicacy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

 “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered him   stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.”(Is 53,4)  

From a testimony of Don Pjeter Çuni

(Born in Shkodër  in 1914, he studied in Rome until his priestly ordination in St. Peter’s Basilica, in 1940. When he returned to Albania, was appointed as a pastor of Shkrel and Rrjoll, where he distinguished himself for the care and devotion for his pastoral service and for his kindness in the relations with everybody. He gave a significant contribution to the diocesan magazine “Kumbona and së Djeles” – “Sunday’s Bell”, and did several translations thanks to his excellent knowledge of the Italian language. As a young pastor, in July 1948 he was arrested without charge or trial and five months later he was killed).

His cousin says: “From some time, Don Pjeter, was preparing himself to face his Calvary. We used to talk about sentences, shootings that every day increased more. He said to me: – It seems that Christ has decided that I will be among the last! -. Not long after our meeting that took place in my house, Christ decided to call him to bear witness to him: it was the month of July, 1948. In fact, one morning, a person of Sigurimi stopped him on the street asking him who he was, knowing well about him. He understood that it was his moment. That same day went in bicycle to Koplik, the main town of his parish’s area. He was stopped and arrested for no reason. They tied him up and took him to Koplik. Here, along with Father Alexander Sirdani, were tied together and hoisted on two donkeys. In this way they went around for the whole town, while being covered with insults and accusations.


Lord Jesus remember the Christians that in every continent witness you in the persecution and fall as martyrs for the faith. Their blood may be the seed of new Christians and the sign of your everlasting presence. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

“He bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”(Is 53,12)

From the testimony of Father Zef Pllumi, o.f.m.

(Born in Lezha in 1924 and died in 2007. A man of great culture, survived the persecution after serving 25 years in prison and forced labor).

“On Easter 1949 in my cell n. 7, there was an event of indescribable joy. Christ  entered to strengthen us in faith! Here’s what happened. Father Leon Kabashi, Friar Minor, asked a pair of slippers to her sister Rosa who had come to see him. He managed to say: “In the slippers put the Easter gift!” The policemen and spies that heard these words did not understand that he asked the consecrated hosts for the communion. On Easter, father Leon was able to meet her sister who gave him his slippers. We opened them secretly: inside there was a corporal with fifty hosts! I dropped to my knees. I remembered St. Tarcisius, martyr for the communion at the time of the catacombs …

Lamb of God who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!

In the twentieth century are repeated the same scenes as in the Roman catacombs. “


Lord Jesus, give us the grace to be converted and the courage to be able to risk for your name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

 “By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak

   of his descendants?  For he was cut off from the land of the living;

   for the transgression of my people he was stricken.” (Is 53,8)

 From a testimony of Father Michael Beltoja

(Helped by Msgr. Ernest Çoba, he studied philosophy and theology. He was ordained a priest in Shkodër  in 1961 while the regime was coming to the total destruction of the Catholic Church and its structures. On  April 19, 1973 he was arrested and tortured for four months. During the process that it will bring to the death sentence, Father Michael was not afraid to speak until the end against communism, sworn enemy of the faith and of the nation. He will pay with his life for speaking with passion and courage to defend the clergy and all the intellectuals that the regime had already eliminated with its ferocity).

Some eyewitnesses say that Father Michael was a true “soldier” of Christ: brave and zealous for the cause of God, resolute and blameless, willing to do anything to serve Christ and the brothers. For this reason the communists spied upon him and kept an eye on every step he made. One day the agents of Sigurimi entered into his house and made a thorough perquisition. They took away everything they found: vestments, liturgical books, images and other sacred objects. Later they reached him and arrested him in front of the church of Beltoja already transformed into a cultural center. They pushed him violently into a car. He remaining calm, greeted those who were present at the scene … but were all afraid to answer him and accompanied him only with their eyes. His house was guarded by armed guards, and after searching everything, they gathered all the people forcing them to accuse him as an enemy of the people and a reactionary.


Lord, make us understand that only by sharing the sorrow of your passion, we will be able to see rising in us the sun of your resurrection. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

”He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;

 he was like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her

 shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Is 53,7)

From a testimony of Don Dede Maçaj

(Born in 1920, he studied at the Pontifical Seminary of Shkodër and completed his philosophy and theology in Rome. As a young priest, he returned to Shkodër and held service as a pastor between Rragam and  Sheldi, where before had preceded him Don Ndre Zadeja.

He was arrested in 1947. With a process-farce, he suffered the same fate of his fellow priests, he was condemned and shot shortly after).

“He was taken away from the hall of judgment. The court issued a final judgment without appeal. A sentence of death, to be carried out immediately, in the same place. He was allowed to express his last wish.

He said: – I have no other desire than that which you know well, that you have condemned me without any fault of mine-.

They took him out of the military zone, in a meadow near the river Vjosa.

They took off his clothes as they did to Jesus on Golgotha and a platoon of soldiers fired on him. But he did not fall to the ground. They fired again, but Don Dede remained standing. The Executioner, full of envy because he could not lie down that valiant hero, with a single blow, for the third time gave the order to fire. But this time he did not wait. He fell and greeted mother earth that was painted red with his blood.”


Lord Jesus Christ help us to strip ourselves of all that is unworthy and to put on the white robe that you have gained for us with the cross. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you.

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment That brought us peace was upon him; and with his wounds we are healed.” (Is 53,5)

From a testimony of Don Anton Muzaj

(Born in 1919, he studied at the Pontifical Seminary of Shkodër. He completed his theological studies in Rome. In 1946 he returned to Shkodër, where the communist persecution had already begun. He was arrested in 1947 with the charge to be a spy of the Vatican. He died at the age of 29 years old).

It was October 1947 when Don Anton Muzaj and father Frano Kiri were arrested and subjected to the most terrible tortures. They were forced to remain standing with their nose stuck to the wall, with hands and feet tied, for days and nights, while the thirst heightened the sufferings. Every day two prisoners, in turn, mopped the floor of the prison corridor, often wet with blood. Don Anton asked them not to dry that water, in order to be able to drink. And then they threw themselves to the floor to lick like dogs a few drops from the wet floor. He was turned to such a state that he could not stand up and for this reason he was beaten even more. Often they threw buckets of cold water on him, and they use to put him in the middle of the open doors and windows, exposed to the drafts of the cold winter months. He fell ill with tuberculosis. After the trial, the judges saw the conditions in which he was reduced and realized that he was almost at the end of his life. For this reason, they did not condemn him to death. To his fellow prisoners he said: – If one day you will see my family, tell them that I am completely innocent and that I only die for my faith in Christ -.


O Christ our God, nailed to the cross for our salvation, grant to us and to the world the peace that comes from you. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

“I will also make you a light to the Gentiles, that thou may bring  my salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Is 49,6)

From a testimony of Father Alexander Sirdani

(Born in Shkodër in 1892, he soon lost his mother. He studied in Shkodër at the Xaverian College of the Jesuits and continued his theological studies in Austria. Ordained as a priest in 1916, he served as a pastor in several villages of the Diocese of Shkodër. Man of prayer and peacemaker, intervened in situations of discord and revenge among families. He distinguished himself for his wisdom and nobility of spirit. In 1948 he was arrested and taken to Koplik. Subjected to atrocious tortures for five months, he was killed together with Don Pjeter Çuni).

Man from the eloquent language, Don Alexander was very clear and accurate in his sermons. With simple words and understandable to all, transmitted the teachings of Christian wisdom and without any fear, refuted the materialist theories and discredited before everybody the anti-Christian ideas of the atheistic Communism. He used to repeat with a loud and determined voice that only where the Spirit of the Lord abides, there is freedom! Some witnesses say that one day, after his sermon, the persons at the service of the regime took him outside, near a cross and with great anger criticized him vulgarly and threatened him before the people. Don Alexander, with his usual tranquility of spirit, said: – Hit. I’m here. I give my life for Christ! -. Then someone begged him: – No, Father Alexander, because you ruin us and yourself! -. And he answered: – To give witness for Christ is an honor for me and for you. I have preached and will preach only the faith of Christ! -.


O Lord Jesus, You who have died for all on the cross, have mercy on us mortal creatures. In the hour of death, come, and meet us and welcome us. Carry us on your shoulders towards the Father after washing our sins in your precious blood. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 


 – We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

“After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by the knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities”.(Is 53,11)

 From the testimony of Fr. Anton Luli

(Jesuit; contemporary of John Paul II, survived communism and gave a witness in St Peter’s on the 50th anniversary of priesthood who celebrated with the Pope. He died in 1998).

“In the halls of SIGURIMI, the moral and physical tortures were terrible and unbearable.

In the same prison there were with me, two other priests which I knew very well.

They resisted a few days of torture. I could hear them shouting for help, asking for water to drink but no one gave to them anything. The first one, Father Alexander Sirdani, resisted three days. The second one, Don Pjeter Çuni, young, they tortured him with electric current.

I was tired to live and I desired to die. When the policemen accompanied me I told them that I would be grateful to them if I they would hit me with a bullet in the forehead to put an end to my terrible suffering.”


Within Thy wounds, O Jesus, we take refuge. Save us from the evil that assails us. Deliver us from all evil. Make us winners of darkness that seem to dominate and win the light of our days. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


– We praise, you o Christ, and we bless you

– Because with your holy cross you have redeemed the world. 

 “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.”(Is 53,9)

From a testimony of father Serafin Koda, OFM

(He was born in 1893. He entered the Order of Friars Minor in 1909. Ordained as a priest in 1915 became provincial counselor and pastor of several villages. He was pastor at Lezhë when he was arrested and brutally tortured for a false accusation of conspiracy, after attending a meeting of the Franciscan Province. He died on May 11, 1947, 54 years old).

Father Seraphin, a man of great prudence and goodness, respected by all for his wisdom and courage, was tireless in his mission as a priest and as a pastor. In the exercise of his ministry he was not afraid of anything or anyone. He was arrested in the Franciscan convent of Lezhë by Sigurimi: it was the day of his feast day, October 12, 1946.

He was held in prison in the stable of the convent, which had already been requisited by the regime and converted into a hospital. They tortured him by dipping him in a tank of water up to his neck. Thy sank their nails into his throat to break his trachea.

Those who were close to him, said that while they carried him from the prison to the infirmary – also inside of the convent – father Serafin turned to Mary with this prayer: – O Holy Virgin, bring soon to fulfillment your work! -.


Jesus our Savior, you who have experienced the death to give us eternal life, give to all our deceased brothers joy and the eternal peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The blood of your martyrs, Lord,

became the seed of the Church.

Make us worthy to pick up the heritage of these brothers who preceded us in faith and let that their testimony be always an example for us and a guide in the joys and difficulties of life.

Give us the certainty that even in the ruins of man, O Lord, you always restore and make to rise again. Through Christ our Lord. amen