The Catholic Defender: Saint Nicholas Tavelic and Companions’ Story


“It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.


But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1:7-8


St. Nicholas Tavelic is a sterling example of a Franciscan Knight whose sword was the Gospel.


Just when you think you’ve got a good handle on the calendar of saints another one comes to prominence exactly at the moment when you need to hear their story.


St. Nicholas moved from the first way of St. Francis to the second.


He volunteered to go the Holy Land to help maintain the Christian places of worship under the Mamluk Sultans of the 14th Century.


After some time and study St. Nicholas decided to take a very direct evangelical approach and set off to preach to the Quadi leader, being martyred near the Jaffa Gate of Jerusalem, 1391 on November 14th


St. Francis Assisi addresses this in the Rule of 1221 where he writes that the friars going to proclaim the Gospel to the Saracens (Muslims) “can conduct themselves among them spiritually in two ways.


One way is to avoid quarrels or disputes and ‘be subject to every human creature for God’s sake’ (1 Peter 2:13), so bearing witness to the fact that they are Christians. st-nicholas-tavelic, Another way is to proclaim the word of God openly, when they see that is God’s will, calling on their hearers to believe in God almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Creator of all, and in the Son, the Redeemer and Savior, that they may be baptized and become true and spiritual Christians”.


"Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme

or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good.

For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God." 1 Peter 2: 13-16


Today I was thinking about how some are called to evangelize by humble witness and in the sanctification of the everyday things and how others are asked to be a crucified Word.


Nicholas and his three companions are among the 158 Franciscans who have been martyred in the Holy Land since the friars became custodians of the shrines in 1335.

Nicholas was born in 1340 to a wealthy and noble family in Croatia. He joined the Franciscans, and was sent with Deodat of Rodez to preach in Bosnia.


In 1384, they volunteered for the Holy Land missions and were sent there. They looked after the holy places, cared for the Christian pilgrims, and studied Arabic.


In 1391, Nicholas, Deodat, Peter of Narbonne, and Stephen of Cuneo decided to take a direct approach to converting the Muslims.


On November 11, they went to the huge Mosque of Omar in Jerusalem and asked to see the Qadix—Muslim official.

Reading from a prepared statement, they said that all people must accept the gospel of Jesus.


When they were ordered to retract their statement, they refused.


After beatings and imprisonment, they were beheaded before a large crowd.


Nicholas and his companions were canonized in 1970.


They are the only Franciscans martyred in the Holy Land to be canonized. Their liturgical feast is celebrated on November 14.


You have followed my teaching, way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,

persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, persecutions that I endured. Yet from all these things the Lord delivered me.


In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.


But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived.


But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it,

and that from infancy you have known [the] sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 10-15


"Then I saw thrones; those who sat on them were entrusted with judgment. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image nor had accepted its mark* on their foreheads or hands. They came to life and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Revelation 20:4