“Blessed Denis and Blessed Redemptus died for their faith on November 29th, 1638. Both of these two men are interesting as they were late vocations, having both had successful careers before becoming Carmelite friars. And both earned the title of the first martyrs of the Carmelite Reform.
Blessed Denis of the Nativity was born Denis Berthelot at Honfleur, France on December 12, 1600. As a young man he sailed abroad to Spain, England and America, becoming a skilled pilot, and a cartographer. Because of his valor and genius, he became first pilot of the kings of France and Portugal. Some of his cartography, the Maritime Tables, is still preserved in the British Museum.
In 1635, he joined the Carmelite community in Goa where he was an example of virtue to all. He was graced with the gift of contemplation.
Blessed Redemptus of the Cross was born Thomas Rodrigues da Cunha in Portugal in 1598. His early career before becoming a Carmelite included military service in India at Goa where he too joined the Carmelites and became a lay brother.
Shortly after the Ordination to the priesthood of Blessed Denis, the Portuguese ambassador to the sultan of Achen wanted Bl. Denis to join him as a spiritual guide, as well as a Maritime expert, and someone versed in the Malayan language. Father Denis, in turn, took as companion, Brother Redemptus.
However, the sultan of Achen imprisoned them. They were tormented and their persecutors tried mightily to convince them to renounce their Catholic faith and become Muslims. This they steadfastly refused to do and they suffered a cruel death for their Christian faith on November 29, 1638. Their last words were: “Jesus, Mary.” Blessed Denis is commemorated today particularly in the diocese of Bayeux-Lisieux.”