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 | Staff Report

A Historic Day for Florida

October 10, 2023 | Bishop Gregory Parkes will be in Tallahassee to concelebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving and participate in a ceremony for the closing of the Diocesan phase of the Cause for Canonization of Antonio Inija and his 56 Companions on October 12, 2023. Students from Jesuit High School and local clergy will also be present.

The outdoor Mass will take place at the site held for the future Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Martyrs in Tallahassee. This will be followed by the closing ceremony as the findings are gathered and will be sent to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints in Rome. 

The Cause for Canonization was officially opened by Bishop Parkes on October 12, 2015, when he was bishop of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee. 

"These are both priests, as well as lay people and religious, who were murdered, who were martyred over a period of approximately 200 to 300 years in Florida, for the faith. Here locally, we know of Father Father Luis de Cancer, who was martyred on the shores of what we now believe to be around Safety Harbor, back in the 17th century, and then up into the Tallahassee area where a lot of the martyrdoms took place," said Bishop Parkes.

"Many were Native Americans, and they were executed out of hatred for the faith. The lead martyr, Antonio Inija, was a leader in his particular tribe. He was a lay person who was married and had a family. He took it upon himself to catechize the other Native Americans, and he was ultimately killed by burning at the stake for his Catholic faith," added Bishop Parkes.

Historical experts have researched numerous individuals from the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries who are reported to have died for the faith within the land that was once known as La Florida. These investigations have taken members of the Historical Commission to archives in Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and Louisiana, as well as Cuba, Mexico, Spain, London, and Rome. In keeping with the Church's prudent requirements, the Historical Commission has rigorously examined each and every report of martyrdom. 

"This truly is a historic moment in time. The process of canonization is exceptionally detailed and complicated, and this event brings us one step closer in honoring, celebrating, and memorializing those that literally gave their lives for the perpetuation of their faith and Christian beliefs," stated Chris Stavres, president of the Martyrs of La Florida Missions, Petitioner for the Cause.

For more information on the Martyrs of La Florida Missions, visit

About The Martyrs of La Florida Missions

The Martyrs of la Florida Missions organization is a 501c3 ministry, included in the Official Catholic Directory, whose mission is to honor and spread devotion to the martyrs by promoting their canonization, establishing a shrine and engaging regional, national and international communities for recognition.