Communists seized control of the Albanian government in 1944, ushering in an era of intense persecution for the Catholic Church over the next several decades, shutting down Catholic schools, arresting bishops and priests, and killing the faithful.
Archbishop Prennushi, head of the Durrës archdiocese, was arrested, imprisoned and tortured in the 1940s, eventually dying from his torture. His companions were similarly killed.
In 2002, at the opening of the cause for the Albanian martyrs' canonization, Auxiliary Bishop Zef Simoni of Shkodër said:Share
The Catholic clergy distinguished itself for its patriotism and culture. The dictatorship suggested ... that they separate from the Holy See in Rome and found a nationalist Church. They all courageously refused. The proposal was also put to Bp. Frano Gjini, apostolic delegate, who replied firmly: "I will never separate my flock from the Holy See."Bishop Gjini was shot in 1948. Even with their shepherd gone, the priests refused to go into schism, and many wound up arrested and imprisoned for their fidelity to Rome. (Read more.)