Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) - "For 25 years I have prayed to Christ, why should I betray him?" These are the words spoken by a Protestant pastor just moments before he was slain in India by Hindu fundamentalists because he refused to renounce Christianity. His testimony and that of hundreds of other Christians killed out of hatred for the faith were at the center of In memoriam martyrum, a three-day gathering of prayer and reflection promoted by the Italian section of Aid to the Church in Need in Rome, at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, from March 13-15.
The initiative, held in conjunction with others in cities in Sicily, Calabria, and Puglia, commemorated the stories of the many martyrs of our time. In the capital, on Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th, priests, religious, and laity recounted their experiences and those of their brethren who witnessed to their faith to the point of martyrdom. Their remarks, made during two encounters entitled "Testimonies of the Passion of the Church today," recalled the conditions of oppression and violence in which entire Christian communities live today in Orissa, Iraq, Vietnam, and many other countries in Asia and Africa.
During the three days of events, there was also an exhibition at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, "Whether you live or die. Martyrs and modern totalitarianism," dedicated to the victims of the French Revolution, of the religious persecution in Mexico and Spain, of Naziism and Soviet communism.