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Christian Community in Egypt Marking Martyrdom of 21 Christians Killed by Jihadists

Credit: Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Portugal

A community in Egypt’s Diocese of Minya has embarked on a 15-day commemoration of the martyrdom of the 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians who were murdered in 2015 by Daesh jihadists.

Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Portugal, has announced that for the entire 15 days starting Tuesday, February 1, the community of Samalut in the Egyptian Diocese will be celebrating the courageous witness of the 21 who were killed by the Islamic State terrorist group, on a beach in Libya.

The tributes to the Coptic martyrs will continue until February 15 and will take place mostly at the shrine erected in the town of al Awar, where almost all of them lived, ACN Portugal reports.

“Liturgical celebrations, prayer meetings, lectures and visits to the museum that has been built next to the shrine, are some of the initiatives that the diocese of Samalut is organizing during these days that are also intended to be of ‘spiritual awakening,’” the charity foundation says in the Tuesday, February 1 report.

There were 20 Egyptians and one Ghanaian, ACN Portugal reports, and explains that all those who were killed were “humble laborers who were in Libya trying to help the meager domestic economy.”

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“These twenty-one Christians were captured by a jihadist commando and later beheaded in an almost Hollywoodesque reenactment disseminated via social media by the terrorists,” ACN Portugal says of the killing that attracted worldwide condemnation.

The Pontifical foundation recalls that the images of the martyrdom of the Christians went around the world and “showed the barbarity of the terrorists.”

“Even then, the men are said to have demonstrated immense faith until the last moment of their lives,” ACN Portugal reports, and adds, “In the video you can see that some of these simple workers were praying and saying ‘Jesus Christ’ at the moment of the barbaric execution.”

The foundation makes reference to the message of Pope Francis who is said to have praised the faithfulness that the Christians exuded with their last breath.

“Their only words were ‘Jesus, help me!’ They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians,” the Holy Father said, adding that “the blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony that cries out to be heard.”

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Referring to the Christians as “saints of all Christians”, Pope Francis said, “It makes no difference whether they are Catholic, Orthodox, Coptic or Protestant. They are Christians!”

In a video message for the “Day of Contemporary Martyrs” February 15, the Holy Father said, “I hold in my heart that baptism of blood, those twenty-one men baptized as Christians with water and the Spirit.”

“I thank God our Father because he gave us these courageous brothers. I thank the Holy Spirit because he gave them the strength and consistency to confess Jesus Christ to the point of shedding blood. I thank the bishops, the priests of the Coptic sister Church which raised them and taught them to grow in the faith. And I thank the mothers of these people, of these 21 men, who ‘nursed’ them in the faith,” he said.

ACN Portugal reports that the video of the beheading of the Christians was released on 15 February 2015, so the date became, by decision of Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II, a remembrance of their martyrdom.

The remains of Christian workers would only be found in September 2017, in a mass grave on the coast of Libya, near the city of Sirte, ACN Portugal recounts, adding that all the bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs, “just as they were when they were filmed by the jihadists in the execution video.”

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