03/24/2007, 00.00
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Martyrs Day, “gift and sign of hope for the world”

Today is the XV Day of prayer and fasting promoted by the Pontifical Mission Societies. The memory of all the witnesses of Christ that died during missionary work; in 2006 alone 24 priests, lay readers and clergy, men and women, of which 4 in Asia. Their blood “gift and sign of hope for the today’s world.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Prayer and fasting to remember the martyred missionaries in the entire world, 24 only in 2006. It is the invitation that, as every year, is extended to the Youth Missionary Movement  of the Pontifical Mission Societies, who are the promoters of the today, 24 March, whose intention is to bring focus to the contribution given by to the Church by its Martyrs. The theme chose for this XV edition is: “The killed missionaries: hope for the world”.
“A life that is spent for love has the possibility to transform the conscience, change the mentality and life. Instead what motive for sadness, martyrs in the Church are seen as a source of force, of energy and of hope to continue on the same path of Christ, without any other defense except the Gospel,” explains the subsidy prepared by the MGM. Today’s date was chosen because it is the anniversary of the assassination of the Archbishop of San Salvador, monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, killed on the altar in 1980. In particular, the memory goes to all of those who in 2006 “poured the blood of Christ, doing all they could for a lifeof gift and hopefor today’s world,” asis written in the last number of the magazine “L’Animatore missionario” published by the POM. According to official Vatican data, 24 misisonaries - clergy, priests and lay readers of different nationalities- were killed last year. Not all of them died because of their faith, many- at least in appearance- were victims of aggression and theft as a result of social context of violence and poverty.
Asia has witnessed the sacrifice of 4 Catholics. A parish priest and a lay reader died in India: P. Eusebio Ferrao, 61, priest of the church of Saint Francis to Macasana, in the southern part of (India), he was killed in the night between the 17 and 18 March 2006. Jacob Fernandez, Catholic lay reader, manager of the annexed bookcase to the Sanctuary of the Mount of Saint Thomas to Chennai, in the state of the Tamil Nadu, was assaulted on 26 November 2006 without reason and without motive while he was working, by a man who used a machete to kill him.
Ad Ambon, in the Indonesian province of Molucche, the stage until 2001 of bloody inter-religious clashes, Sister Maria Yermine Yamlean, 33, Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, was killed the morning of 10 March 2006.
In Turkey don Andrea Santoro, Italian missionary fidei donum in Turkey was killed in Trabznon while praying in his church on 5 February 2006. 
Let us remember also Sister Leonella Sgorbati, missionary of the Consoled, Italian, 66, was killed on the 17 September 2006 in Mogadishu (Somalia) killed while going to the hospital where she provided her services by killers who hid behind a car during Islamic protests against the Pope’s speech in Regensburg.
As Benedict XVI reminded the faithful, the day of the dead, and even more so the day of the martyrs, is not the end of everything. In the Angelus of 26 December he explained, “ In the first four centuries of Christianity, all the saints that were venerated by the Church were martyrs. Their deaths did not cause fear nor sadness, but spiritual enthusiasm that brought new Christians. For the believers, the day of the dead, and even more so the day of the martyrs, is not the end of everything, but the ‘transit’ towards immortality, and the day of the final birth.”
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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”