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Women were the targets: Cairo attack was a strike at the womb of the Church

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Bomb planted in section of Coptic church occupied by women and children. We remember the dead by name, in prayer...

It is easy, particularly during a busy season of preparation for holidays and Holy Days, to be both horrified by a story of terrorism and forgetful of it. Over the past week we have read of bombings: at a seaport in Mogadishu, in Cairo, in Nigeria and we have gasped, and prayed and then — all too often in our digital age — we’ve flipped to Facebook as much to see who “liked” something we “liked” as to forget about the too-frequent carnage; though it is “far away” we know it can become all too near, in a seeming instant.

But when the details reach our awareness it becomes more difficult to filter out the horror, and the horror this time is that women and children are being targeted: the suicide bombers of Nigeria were very young girls. In the attack Cairo, a powerful bomb — this powerful — was placed in the section of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul that is reserved for women and children.

These are attacks, then, upon the life-giving womb of the Church, which nurtures and forms its future, and upon the very young whose “souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.”

5 Things to know about Coptic Christians

Yes, it is a reality as bad as it sounds, which is why even militants are denouncing this attack.

Perhaps that is why it is important to note that the victims of the Cairo bombing, as far as they are identified, are all women. And just as it was important to learn the names of the 21 Coptic martyrs slain on a beach, by ISIS, it is important to learn the names of these martyred women, killed while at worship, and speak their names, too, in prayer. As Pope Francis said to His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of the Coptic-Orthodox Church of Alexandria, “We are united in the blood of our martyrs”:

+Holy Martyr Regina Raafat, pray for us, and for the whole world
+Holy Martyr Nadia Raymond Shehata, pray for your murderers
+Holy Martyr Veronia Faheem Helmy, pray for their salvation
+Holy Martyr Marina Faheem Helmy, for the release of all their captives
+Holy Martyr Ensaf Adel Kamel, pray for the protection of families grieved and separated through terror
+Holy Martyr Aida Mikahil, pray for the young women and men called to build families
+Holy Martyr Eman Youssef, pray for the generation of the future
+Holy Martyr Neveen Adel Salama, pray for the elders, who must support them
+Holy Martyr Amany Saad, pray for those held captive, forced to serve those who serve only evil
+Holy Martyr Varina Emad Amin, pray for the “two lungs” of Christianity, East and West, to breath together
+Holy Martyr Samia Gameel, pray for the illumination of that which is All-Good
+Holy Martyr Sohair Mahrous, pray that in beholding it, we will wish to serve it
+Holy Martyr Attiyat Sarhan Saeed, pray for those infected with the virus of hatred and extremism
+Holy Martyr Madeleine Tawfiq Abdo, pray for those in leadership, both secular and sacred
+Holy Martyr Mohsen Elios, pray that they might be guided by the wisdom of heaven
+Holy Martyr Widad Wahba, pray for the release of all captives
+Holy Martyr Samia Fawzy, pray for the people who are at this moment under siege
+Holy Martyr Marcelle Guirguis, pray for those in immediate danger from forces of evil
+Holy Martyr Neveen Nabil Youssef, pray for the protection of our Holy Lands and our heritage
+Holy Martyr Jihan Albert, pray for aid workers, secular and religious
+Holy Martyr Suad Atta Bishara, pray for the generation in power, that their egos may be put aside and their hearts might be opened to the Way, the Truth and the Life
+Holy Martyr Sabah Wadih Yesa, pray for all people of good will, in every religion and every nation
+Holy Martyr Nabil Habib Abdallah, pray for us, and for the whole world

O New Martyrs, through a malevolent force as old as Eden you now number among the ancient holy ones; keep us particularly in your prayers, as once again we are focused on the mysterious lands where humanity first came into being, and into knowing, and where all will finally be revealed. Pray that we may put aside all that is irrelevant to the moment and, looking forever to the East, prepare our spirits for the engagements into which we may be called, whether we live amid these places of ancient roads and portals, or in the most modern of dwellings.

Mary, the God-bearer, pray for us,
Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us,
Saint John the Forerunner, pray for us,
Saint Charbel Makhlouf, pray for us,
Saints Mariam Baouardy and Marie-Alphonsine of Palestine, pray for us,
Blessed Charles de Foucauld, pray for us,

All Holy Men and Women, pray for us.
Amen, Amen.

If you want to support the suffering Christians of Egypt, a great organization is Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), a 90-year-old papal agency that has extensive projects and programs that are offering many kinds of material and spiritual support to Eastern Catholics, including the Coptic Christians. (A poignant photo essay from their award-winning magazine last spring gives a glimpse of the world they serve in Egypt, while this profile from Suez shows some of the hardship and persecution Christians are confronting.) Visit this page to learn what you can do.

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