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» 10/13/2009
IRAQ
Archbishop of Kirkuk: for 1600 years, Iraq has been a "country of martyrs"
Diocese remembers the massacre of Christians in 409 AD, in which hundreds of people were beheaded for their faith. Program includes a fast for peace, prayers, masses and a conference. Archbishop Sako: the persecutions have not stopped "the story and the journey" of Christians, strong in the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - For 1600 years, Iraq has been "a country of martyrs", which finds in the “Holy Spirit and the Eucharist" the strength to bear witness to the faith “despite persecution”. So says Mgr. Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, on the eve of a week of celebrations to mark 1600 years since the massacre of Iraqi martyrs. A long series of past and present violence, but one which has not stopped "the sacred history of the Christians ... and their journey."

In 409 AD hundreds of Christians were beheaded for their faith. "Among them - said Msgr. Sako - a widow named Scirin-Miskenta, with two children, and general Tahmazgerd, who carried out the decree of the king, who ordered the massacre. "Seeing their faith, serenity and the trust of the widow - continued the prelate - Tahmzgerd converted to Christianity" and as a result was "beheaded later." Around 470, to commemorate the massacre of Christians, the bishop of Kirkuk Maruta "built a sanctuary” on the hill where "the martyrs were buried”.  The "Red Church", as it is called, junits Christians and Muslims and is now "the graveyard of the Chaldeans"; the relics of martyrs, custodied on the main altar, have always been a destination for the processions of the faithful.

To celebrate the anniversary of the martyrdom, the diocese has organized a series of events: on Wednesday, a day of fasting for peace; Thursday, hymns of the martyrs and a conference at the recently restored Sanctuary; on Friday Mass will be celebrated; on Saturday a play, staged by the choir of the cathedral and the church of St. Joseph. Under the slogan "true to our fathers in faith," Christians in Kirkuk want to "bear witness to the faith, love, trust and openness."

The history of violence and persecution against Christians has continued uninterrupted. Abductions, kidnappings, assassinations, fleeing families are the dramatic testimony of a "chain of martyrs - underlines Msgr. Sako - that continues. Our country is dotted with shrines to  martyrs that people constantly visit, it is a spirituality of martyrdom".  Christians find the strength to "remain faithful" in the "Holy Spirit, but also in the liturgy, especially the Eucharist." "In every Mass - added the archbishop of Kirkuk – we are called upon to make the sacrifice of Christ in our life, in his words; take, break, give ... Do this in memory of me: this is the sacred history of Christians and ... their journey”.

 

 


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See also
01/16/2007 IRAQ
Iraq moving towards division, says bishop of Kirkuk
05/31/2011 IRAQ
Kirkuk Christians and Muslims unite in prayer to Our Lady for Peace in Iraq
by Joseph Mahmoud
05/25/2011 IRAQ - GERMANY
Archbishop of Kirkuk awarded for his struggle for human rights
08/29/2009 IRAQ
In Kirkuk Christian and Muslim leaders for dialogue and reconciliation
03/11/2008 IRAQ
Silence must not descend on Archbishop of Mosul

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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