Coptic Christians in Egypt earlier this month observed the fifth anniversary of the martyrdom of 21 Christians in Libya at the hands of ISIS by dedicating a shrine to the victims and opening a museum at the Church of the Martyrs of Faith and the Homeland in the al-Our village in the Minya governate in Egypt, where most of the martyrs were from.
On the last leg of his visit to Romania, the pope June 2 celebrated a Divine Liturgy during which seven Eastern-rite Catholic bishops, who died during a fierce anti-religious campaign waged by the communist regime in Romania, were beatified.
Four years ago this week, 21 men were videotaped on a beach in Libya as their ISIS captors beheaded them one by one. Of the 21 victims, 20 were Coptic Christians from Egypt who had migrated to Libya for work. In his new book, German novelist Martin Mosebach chronicles his travels through Upper Egypt, where he met with the martyrs’ families and priests.
When I was a student in elementary school, I remember the nuns telling us that we would probably never be called upon to give our life’s blood for the faith. This was usually in the context about how so many martyrs had died for the faith. One of our heroes at the time was Bishop Francis X. Ford, the Maryknoller from Brooklyn who lost his life in a Communist Chinese prison camp.
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
The Bishops of the United States (USCCB) have designated this Sunday, the Feast of Christ the King, as A Day of Prayer for Persecuted Christians. As we look at our world scene today, we recognize that the persecution of Christians around the world perhaps has never been more intense since the days of the early persecutions during the Roman Empire. It sounds hard to believe in 2017, however, it is true. The situation in the Middle East especially is very troubling.