Friar Francis Zirano, born in 1564 in Sassari, Italy, professed his Franciscan vows in 1580 and was ordained a priest in 1586. In 1599, Pope Clement VIII authorized him to collect funds to ransom Christians who were being held as slaves in North Africa. Friar Francis journeyed to Algiers arriving in 1602.
In early 1603, Friar Francis was captured and condemned to death for being a Christian. He refused to renounce his faith and spent his last days encouraging other Christians in prison. He was martyred on January 25, 1603.
The Christian slaves collected his bones and skin as relics. The Church identified him as a model of life for Christians and an intercessor in Heaven.
Friar Francis’ journey to sainthood continued and over the last 35 years much work has been done to promote his beatification. Study and research took place in archives and libraries – led largely by the Friars Minor Conventual in Sardinia. The process continued with a diocesan inquiry culminating in a public meeting on September 7, 1991 in the Church of St. Mary of Bethlehem, Sassari, where Friar Francis Zirano had lived for 22 years.
After the Dercree of Legal Validity from the diocesan inquiry (6/3/92) an examination of the “Position on the Martyrdom of the Servant of God” was conducted by three sections of the Congregation: Historical Experts (giving their endorsement 3/4/03); Theological Consultors (endorsing on 5/16/13); and Cardinals and Bishops (endorsing 2/4/14).
Next comes the Decree of Beatification which must be signed by the Pope.