Survivors of Nigeria’s 2022 Pentecost Bombing Feted in Inaugural Award

Margaret and Dominic Attah with Archbishop John Wilson of Southwark and UK National Director Caroline Hull outside St George’s Cathedral, London. Credit: ACN

Survivors of the 2022 Pentecost Sunday attack on St Francis Xavier’s Church in Nigeria’s Ondo Diocese that left 41 Christians dead, and more than 80 injured are the recipients of the first ever “Courage to be a Christian” award.

Catholic pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International, launched the ward to commemorate the bombing victims who, the foundation says, demonstrated fortitude and faith “in the face of persecution.”

According to a Tuesday, December 5 ACN report, two survivors of the attack travelled to London to receive the award on behalf of the rest, in a ceremony that was commemorated at  St George’s Cathedral.

Margaret and Dominic Attah were both in St Francis Xavier’s Church on the day of the attack. According to ACN, Margaret lost both her legs in the attack.

Dominic recounted the Pentecost Sunday massacre during an event held in Parliament, on November 22, saying, “Just as Mass was finishing, we heard the first gunshots. The bandits soon realized that their guns couldn’t kill people quickly enough, so they lit dynamite and threw that into the crowd.”


After the terrorists had fled, Dominic began to scour the church, searching for his wife, who had hidden behind the altar during the attack. 

He is said to have walked past her three times without recognising her, because of the extreme injuries she sustained during the explosion. 

Margaret, a nurse, is said to have lost both her legs and the sight in one eye. 

“Many others also received life-changing injuries,” ACN says, and laments that although the Nigerian government has blamed Islamist terrorists for the attack, no one has been brought to justice for the atrocity.

According to ACN UK National Director, Dr Caroline Hull, Margaret is the face of ongoing Christian persecution across the globe.

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“Margaret represents so many others in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere who are called to live out their faith in ways we in the West can hardly imagine. And they do it – Margaret does it – with so much dignity and love and devotion,” the ACN official says.

Mass at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, was presided over by the Apostolic Nuncio in the UK, Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia, who lauded ACN for supporting the persecuted Church.

Archbishop Buendia said, “Religious freedom is of the utmost importance and Aid to the Church in Need is doing a wonderful service by honoring those who have shown such extraordinary commitment to their faith in the face of persecution.”

The “Courage to be a Christian” award was created by the ACN’s UK office to be part of its 2023 #RedWednesday activities. 

The goal of #RedWednesday, which in some countries has evolved into #RedWeek, is to remind society of the persecution faced by Christians all over the world. In parts of Nigeria, the simple act of going to Mass is an extraordinary act of courage.


Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.