Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Will Have Church Dedicated to Christian Martyrs executed by ISIS. (Zenit).
This report is contributed by Oliver Maksan of Aid to the Church in Need.
The gruesome images of the 21 Christians who were beheaded last February by Islamic State terrorists have left a deep imprint on the memory of Christian Egyptians.
Now a new church dedicated to the martyrs—who are formally recognized as such by Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—will honor their memory in a tangible fashion.This week—after a long delay—work began on laying the foundations of the new church in the Coptic-Orthodox Diocese of Samalout, from which most of the martyrs came.
The project had been authorized directly by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi shortly after the tragedy, but resistance by local Muslim authorities delayed the start of construction.
Bishop Paphnutius of Samalout said: “We are extremely proud of our martyrs. Although they were forced to kneel before their executioners, they were the stronger. Their murderers were the weaker, despite their weapons. Why would they have concealed their faces otherwise? It could only have been because they were afraid,” he insisted. “Our sons by contrast were very strong and called on our Lord until their very last breath.”
Bishop Paphnutius interprets their martyrdom spiritually. “The Church has always known that the blood of martyrs is the seed of faith. It will remain so until the end of time,” he said.
“From Alexandria to Aswan, throughout Egypt, Christians have been strengthened in their faith. Muslims from all over have also told us that they are proud; they say that our martyrs have shown that we Egyptians are very strong. Their death fills all of us, Christians and Muslims alike, with pride.”
The crime’s repercussions are still felt today. After all, the martyrs have left widows and children behind. “Thanks to generous donors, we are able to provide for the surviving dependants,” stated Bishop Paphnutius.
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The 21 Christian martyrs in Libya look at Jesus at z moment of their martyrdom & angels ready to crown them pic.twitter.com/i2Hxxks3Nw— COPTIC NATIONALISM (@DioscorusBoles) February 22, 2015
The martyrdom of the 21 Coptic Christians is recognized by @PopeTawadros & commemorated Feb.15 http://t.co/xKb8Ti8IJM pic.twitter.com/fp7nxsDhev— Fr. Manuel Dorantes (@TweetingPriest) February 21, 2015