Foundation stone laid for church to honour Coptic Christians martyred by IS
The foundation stone for a church dedicated to the 21 Coptic Christians martys killed by Islamic State was recently laid in the Coptic-Orthodox Diocese of Samalout, the district where they lived.
The church building was authorised by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt, after Islamic State released a five-minute video titled: “A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross” in February showing the 21 men being beheaded on the seashore in Libya. In the video the men were described as “people of the cross, the followers of the hostile Egyptian Church.”
Bishop Paphnutius from the Diocese of Samalout told Aid to the Church in Need that the diocese was “extremely proud” of those who were killed:”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. Our sons by contrast were very strong and called on our Lord until their very last breath.” He added: “The Church has always known that the blood of martyrs is the seed of faith. It will remain so until the end of time”.
The murdered Christians have become national heroes and their death has inspired many throughout Egypt, from Alexandria to Aswan. They said that the murdered men’s show of faith had strengthened their own as the last words of some of the martyrs were “Lord Jesus Christ”. The men’s killing fills all Egyptians, Christians and Muslims alike, with pride because they believe that “our martyrs have shown that we Egyptians are very strong”.
Although grieving the loss of their loved ones, many people from the Coptic Community, including the men’s relatives, expressed thanks that the men had held onto their faith even when facing death. The mother of one of them, Malid Makeen Zaky, said: “I thank God that my son kept the faith and died for the cross, because he was the son of Christ from his birth, not my son…We thank God that he kept the faith.”