Aid to the Church in Need commemorates Christian martyrs tomorrow
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Tomorrow in Rome, one of the best known tourist spots — the largest Baroque fountain in the city — will be dyed red in honor of the Christian martyrs who’ve lost their lives for their Christian faith. The event at the Trevi fountain is being organized by Aid to the Church in Need and seeks to “call attention to the drama of anti-Christian persecution.”
The Catholic News Agency reports that the Chaldean Catholic Bishop of Aleppo, Syria, Antoine Audo, and Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the International President of Aid the Church in Need, will speak at the event, and numerous associations have joined the initiative including the Focolare Movement, Caritas Italy, Communion and Liberation, the Christian Workers Movement, and various pro-life organizations.
Aid to the Church in Need hopes this will be “the start of a long lasting, concrete reaction everywhere so that the persecuted people of the 21st century can as soon as possible return to fully enjoying their natural right to religious freedom,” according to a statement on its web site.
Pope Francis has spoken often about the witness of the martyrs, calling them the “life-blood” of the Church. Just this week he approved the beatification of 38 Albanian martyrs who were killed by the country’s communist regime between 1945 and 1974. Last summer at a Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, on the day the Church remembers the first Roman martyred during Nero’s persecution, the pontiff reminded the faithful that there are more martyrs today than in the early centuries:
“There are many martyrs today, in the Church, many persecuted Christians. Think of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed. Even those Christians who are forced away in an ‘elegant’ way, with ‘white gloves’: that too is persecution. There are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries. So during this Mass, remembering our glorious ancestors, let us think also to our brothers who are persecuted, who suffer and who, with their blood are nurturing the seed of so many little Churches that are born. Let us pray for them and for us”.