Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Tuesday 21 September |
The Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle
home iconChurch
line break icon

Holy Week with the holy martyrs: Vigil in Rome celebrates our family witnesses

© Marc-Antoine Mouterde

Paul de Dinechin - published on 03/30/18

It is a duty of memory to praise God for the grace of their testimony ...

The Frenchman Jacques Hamel, the Italian Pino Puglisi, and the El Salvadoran archbishop Oscar Romero all offered their lives for Christ and to testify to the Gospel. The names of these three priests were cited alongside those of dozens of other martyrs from around the world during a large ecumenical vigil organized on March 27, 2018. Among the honored martyrs were many priests but also religious and lay people. All are witnesses of the faith.

Vigil in Rome

The prayer vigil was organized in the Basilica of St. Mary of Trastevere, a few minutes from the Vatican. We can get some sense of its importance by the fact that it was presided over by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. The basilica, one of the oldest in Rome, was packed with people. The entire assembly, composed of Catholics, Orthodox, and even Anglicans, prayed with one heart for the Christian martyrs. Songs in all languages ​​punctuated the celebration, paying tribute to these witnesses from around the world.

After reading a psalm— “My help will come to me from the Lord” (Ps 120)— and the proclamation of the Gospel of the Beatitudes, the true standard for followers of Christ, the names of Christians who “offered their lives for the Gospel” were solemnly presented, like so many beads of the Rosary.

“Our time is that of the ecumenism of blood,” said Cardinal Ouellet during his homily, echoing the words of Pope Francis.

Our time, he continued, is littered with martyrs like never before, from all of the Churches combined. For the prelate, paying tribute to them brings us closer to Christ and thus brings Christians closer together. It’s about bearing the supreme testimony of the gift of life proudly and in unison. This is the most profound way to reconcile Christians of different faiths, the Canadian cardinal insisted.


Read more:
Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant: All are Christians and all are being martyred

Different contexts

The slow litany of names reflected the diversity of these supreme gifts illuminated by the Gospel. Nuns spent themselves to the last drop accompanying the sick and the poor, contracting in turn the deadly viruses. Christians were tortured and killed by pure hatred of their faith in Jesus Christ. Cases in point: the Armenians in 1915 but also the five women from Russian Dagestan last February. To these witnesses of yesterday and today, Cardinal Ouellet did not fail to add the victims of the conflicts raging in Burundi and Yemen.

For the prefect, these Christians—well-known or anonymous—are bearers of a message of hope and faith: “Their shed blood is Christ’s, which is still flowing today.” It is a “duty of memory to praise God for the grace of their testimony,” he insisted. And the faithful must invoke the Holy Spirit to find strength to serve and love like them.

Read more:
Who will take the pope’s new road to canonization — offering one’s life?

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Domitille Farret d'Astiès
Attacked with acid as a baby, Anmol Rodriguez overcomes and inspi...
Esteban Pittaro
Argentine “Mother Teresa” was a former model and actress who embr...
Philip Kosloski
Your body is not a “shell” for your spirit
Our Lady of La Salette
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady of La Salette can give us hope in darkness
Cerith Gardiner
12 Habits of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati that every young adult...
Visalia CHURCH
J-P Mauro
The largest Catholic parish church in the US will soon be in Cali...
Zelda Caldwell
A pilgrimage to Paris’ Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.