Rome’s Colosseum bathed in red in honor of modern martyrs

The Colosseum in Rome was lit in red Feb. 24 to draw attention to the persecution of Christians around the world.

ROME — Rome's Colosseum, long a symbol of the persecution of early Christians, was bathed in red light late Feb. 24 as a reminder of and a prayer for the thousands of Christians being persecuted for their faith today.

The family of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death under Pakistan's highly criticized anti-blasphemy laws, and Rebecca Bitrus, a Nigerian Christian who was held in captivity for two years by Boko Haram terrorists, told their stories before the red lights were shined on the Colosseum.

Priest says Egypt’s Christians feel they could be martyrs at any time

The mother of one of the victims of an attack on a group of Coptic Christians that took place May 26 attended a funeral at the Sacred Family Church in Minya, Egypt, that same day.

CAIRO — Christians in Egypt "are getting to this idea that we could be a martyr at any moment," the spokesman for the nation's Catholic bishops told Catholic News Service.

The spokesman, Father Rafic Greiche, also lamented the number of children killed in an attack on a bus carrying Coptic Orthodox Christians to St. Samuel Monastery in southern Egypt May 26.

At least 26 people, many of them children, were killed when masked assailants attacked the bus. Dozens of others were injured.

Pilgrims by the thousands trek to Ugandan shrine to recall 22 martyrs

NAMUGONGO, Uganda — Walking more than 250 miles to keep a religious commitment is the least anyone can expect of Anna Aciro.

Aciro, 62, has walked the entire distance from Aru, a village in Congo, to the Uganda Martyrs Basilica and Shrine in Namugongo to honor the memory of 22 Catholic saints who lost their lives because of their faith from 1885 to 1887.

For Aciro, it's her second trek to the shrine, which is located near the capital of Kampala.

Young martyr a symbol of hope for Mexico’s priests

A man held an image of St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, who was martyred at the age of 14 in 1928, before the canonization Mass for him and six others, celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Oct. 16. The other saints canonized Oct. 16 were St. Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, St. Salomone Leclerq, St. Elizabeth of the Holy Trinity, St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia, St. Ludovico Pavoni and St. Alfonso Maria Fusco.

ROME — The heroism of Mexico's newest saint, St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, should embolden the nation's priests to continue their ministry with trust in God, said the vice postulator of the young saint's cause.

For priests in Mexico, especially those who denounce the activity of drug traffickers and find themselves targeted for attacks, the life of St. Jose is a call to place their "full trust in God," Antonio Berumen, the vice postulator, said.

BEFORE THE CROSS | Follow martyrs’ lead in sowing the seed of faith

This week we celebrate the Feast of the North American Martyrs — eight Jesuit missionaries who were killed between 1642 and 1649. Theirs is a great story of faith and courage as they lived and shared the Gospel in the United States and Canada.

Recalling martyrs, group looks for ways to protect Middle East Christians

Iraqis inspect the scene of a July 8 suicide bomb attack outside Imam Mohammed shrine near Baghdad. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako of Baghdad called for a united and strong stance, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to stop the spread of the "cancer" of Islamic State and other terrorist groups.

WASHINGTON — It's becoming increasingly difficult for Chicagoan Mary Jennett to see and hear daily about the hardship and persecution Christians face, especially in the Middle East.

So Jennett decided to do something about it by attending a Sept. 7-9 convention in Washington organized by In Defense of Christians, a group trying to find solutions to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the preservation of Christianity in areas of conflict around the world.

"They're part of our faith family," Jennett said of the Christians facing persecution.

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