Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo by Johnathon Kelso
A painting depicting the Georgia Martyrs is displayed inside the narthex at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Cartersville.


Beatification cause for Georgia Martyrs moves forward

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer  | Published September 20, 2022

SAVANNAH, Ga.—The sainthood cause for the five Franciscan Georgia Martyrs took a step forward.  

The Diocese of Savannah announced on Sept. 14 the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Causes of Saints “approved and advanced the cause of beatification for Friar Pedro de Corpa and Companions.” Bishop Stephen D. Parkes shared the announcement in an open letter 

In his letter, the Savannah bishop suggested believers study the lives of the 16th-century missionaries and consider their witness for a deeper understanding of “the beauty of the covenant of marriage for couples in our diocese or for a greater desire for the strengthening of family life and values in our homes throughout South Georgia.”

Spanish missions among the Indigenous 

In the late 16th century, Spanish missions with Franciscans were established along the coast as part of the colonial system in the northern frontier of Florida. The Spanish worked and lived among the native Gaule people.  

According to research compiled by the Diocese of Savannah, Gaule leader Juanillo opposed Friar Pedro de Corpa’s defense of and teaching about the sacrament of marriage. During an Indigenous uprising, Friar de Corpa was killed on Sept. 14, 1597. Four of the friar’s companions—Blas, Miguel, Antonio and Francisco—were also murdered in the following days. 

Vatican step puts cause closer to pope 

The sainthood review at the Vatican was undertaken by the historical committee of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, nine theologians vote on whether the candidates “lived a heroic life or suffered martyrdom.”   

Bishop Parkes wrote, “This news from the Dicastery indicates that the process is moving along well.” 

The next step, according to the USCCB, is the cause is examined again by cardinals and bishops who are members of the dicastery. If approved, the cause is then given to the pope, who authorizes the decree declaring a person “Blessed,” if they have been martyred. For those declared a martyr for the faith, no miracle is required prior to beatification. 

To be recognized by the church as a saint and venerated around the globe, candidates must be canonized. That is when the Blessed acquires the title of saint. Canonization requires a miracle attributed to the Blessed. 

Atlanta Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., worked to advance the cause of the Georgia Martyrs while he was Bishop of Savannah. The archbishop joined Bishop Parkes last fall for the blessing of a new statue of the friars at Nativity of Our Lady Catholic Church in Darien. 

To learn more about the cause, visit