Christians worldwide mark anniversary of 21 Christians beheaded by ISIS
This week Christians around the world are remembering the 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians and one West African man who were beheaded by Islamic State militants a year ago. The Copts were kidnapped in separate incidents in Libya throughout December 2014 and January 2015. The beheadings shown in a threatening video released by ISIS on Feb. 15, 2015.shocked the world. The video, entitled “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross,” showed a number of IS militants standings behind the Christians in orange jumpsuits, preparing to carry out the execution.
At a service of commemoration held in the Chapel of St. Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster, London Bishop Amba Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church, said “One profound result and gift of this horrific act is that it brought people together”. He added “These men paid the ultimate price, but gave us a cause to advocate for all those persecuted; they also showed us that there was a level of evil that we must all stand in solidarity against, and a level of courage, faithfulness and defiance that we must all aspire to”.
Bishops and priests of Coptic Orthodox Church have been commemorating in liturgy the deaths of the 21 men, who have been called the “martyrs of Libya,” because they were killed specifically for their Christian faith. Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II officially registered the 21 men in the Synaxarium, the book of the martyrs of the Coptic Church, and declared that their martyrdom would henceforth be celebrated on Feb. 15. A Coptic church with a mural featuring the beheaded martyrs has also been dedicated in their honour in Egypt. ACN is supporting the families of the martyrs by paying for their children’s education to make sure that they will have a decent future.
A number of leading Christians have shared their thoughts on the beheaded Christians, including Lord Alton of Liverpool who stated:
“It is especially important that we mark the anniversary of the brutal murder of the 21 Christians in Libya a year ago, not only to keep them in our memory, but to remember and advocate for all those who continue to face persecution in the Middle East. What is happening to Christians and minorities in the region is nothing short of Genocide and we must not stand by and watch as whole communities are eradicated.”