Twenty Catholic missionaries were murdered in 2023 according to the Vatican news agency Fides.
Among those who lost their lives to violence across the world were a bishop and eight priests.
Africa saw the highest number of missionaries killed, with nine losing their lives there to violence. Six were murdered in Mexico and the United States. Others lost their lives in Gaza and the Philippines.
Fides, which is the news agency of the Pontifical Mission Societies, part of the Dicastery for Evangelization said the figure is slightly higher than in 2022 when 18 missionaries had died violently.
The annual report said that the missionaries were living a normal life in areas where violence had become common:
"They did not carry out any sensational actions or out-of-the-ordinary deeds that could have attracted attention and put them in someone's crosshairs. They could have gone elsewhere, moved to safer places, or desisted from their Christian commitments, perhaps reducing them, but they did not do so, even though they were aware of the situation and the dangers they faced every day.”
In total, one bishop, eight priests, two religious men, one seminarian, one novice and seven lay people were killed in 2023.