SHKODER – The Convent of the OFM Franciscan friars was transformed into a prison and most of the prisoners were the same friars who lived there. Many of them were filmed and imprisoned for finding firearms inside the church, evidence that was later refuted by the confession of a former student of theirs who had hidden the evidence on behalf of Sigurimi.
Popular thanks to the writings of Father Zef Pllumi, Franciscan friar and author of the series of books “Live to tell”, where he recounts all the atrocities personally experienced inside, the convent has largely remained as it was then.
Pllumi recounts the conditions of the prison and the cruelty of the torture suffered during the interrogations. The first floor corridor still shows the cracks and burns on the floor. Most of the prisoners were subsequently shot.
“Once a woman, Ana Daja, was in detention in the corridor on the first floor, she had to stand all the time on tiptoe with her nose stuck to the wall and it is said that that day she asked the cleaning lady to leave the water in between the unevenness of the floor to be able to drink. ” Friar Vincenzo told me.
Friar Vincenzo Focà, an Italian (from Calabria) aged 58, who has lived with the Friars Minor since 1992, in addition to guiding me inside the buildings, was the vice postulator of the cause of the martyrs of the Albanian bishops’ conference.
His task was to find eyewitnesses or ‘hearsay’ and take them to the Ecclesiastical Court, all to clarify the events of the period. The procedure was to carry out a pre-interrogation of the witness and, if it were credible, to take him to the ecclesiastical court where he was interrogated again and recorded by a notary.
In the end, all the documents were fire-sealed and brought to the Holy See personally by the archbishop.
The process of beatification lasted about 8 years, from 10 November 2002 until 8 December 2010. At the end of the process, approximately 800 pages, the “Positio”, were delivered to all the cardinals of the Congregation of Saints, voted to unanimous.
The Pope gave consent for the beatification. Father Leonardo di Pinto, author of two books on the life of every martyr based on all the collected material, was of help to the postulation.