A cathedral dedicated to the Egyptian martyrs beheaded in Libya
by Loula Lahham

Three years after the massacre of the 21 young Copts, a cathedral for the "martyrs of the faith" was built and consecrated in Al Ur, in Upper Egypt. The remains of the victims, found in a cave in Sirte, after DNA testing, will be on display on the ground floor of the building. The words of the martyrs' families.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - It was February 15, 2015: on the shores of the Libyan city of Sirte, members of the so-called Islamic State (Daesh) beheaded 21 young Egyptian Copts in cold blood, filming and publishing their crime in a video with the title : "Message signed with blood, destined for the nation of the Cross".

That same evening, Egypt responded with aerial bombardments of jihadists sites believed responsible for the massacre and the day after the video was broadcast, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sissi visited the Cathedral of Saint Mark in Cairo, home of the Orthodox Coptic patriarchy, to present his condolences to Tawadros II, Pope of the Orthodox Copts.

Seven days of national mourning followed. Subsequently, the families of the victims received a reward and received a monthly pension equal to the salary that those young workers earned, after leaving for work in Libya and supporting their families.

This week, three years after the massacre, the families of the dead remember their children with pain and joy: they now have a cathedral in honour of their children, entitled "Cathedral of the Martyrs of the Faith".

A few days after the massacre, Tawadros II, spiritual head of the Copts of Egypt, decided to enroll the 21 martyrs beheaded by Daesh in the Synaxarium, the sacred historical book of the martyrs of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The cathedral was built in the small village of Al Ur, the birthplace of the majority of the dead, near the town of Samalut in Upper Egypt, about 245 km south of the Egyptian capital. The altars of the new cathedral were blessed and sanctified on February 14 by local bishop Amba Pavnatius; the first mass was celebrated the following day, February 15th with the presence of the governor of the city and finally, yesterday at the beginning of the Egyptian weekend, the church was opened for the weekly masses.

Meanwhile, the families of the dead still await the results of DNA tests by the Egyptian authorities, after the discovery of the remains of the martyrs in a cave in Sirte (Libya), to receive the relics of their children who are likely to be guarded in glass cases on the ground floor of the cathedral.

The Cathedral of the Martyrs of the Faith was built by a group of engineers of the Egyptian Armed Forces paid for by the government, on an area of ​​4 thousand square meters, at a cost of about 10 million Egyptian pounds (about 45,700). It was built on two floors: a ground floor, where the remains of the martyrs will be housed, wrapped in velvet fabrics, according to the Coptic tradition, plus a library, a reception room and other rooms for social services will be exhibited. The upper floor instead is a chapel.

They said of the martyrs

Our brothers are in paradise. We are happy for this and we pray for them.

Emad Soliman, brother of the late Magued Soliman

The number of faithful who have arrived here for the inauguration of the cathedral is crazy. It greatly surpasses the number of those who had come three years ago for the funerals of the martyrs. There were also Muslims.

Makine Zaki, father of the late Milad Zaki

I walked with my family for two kilometers in the cold this morning at 5 am to be present at the first mass of the new cathedral. I feel that my brother is always with us and has never left us.

Makati Nagati, brother of the late Luka Nagati, and cousin of the late Essam Baddar

I am happy to see a building in their name, but the pain of our loss is still strong. Sometimes we still look for our young people and they are gone.


It's a day of celebration. Everyone is full of joy and women cry out with joy.

Kaddis Adel, friend of several of the deceased

I can not wait to see the return of the remains of our martyrs, so that we can venerate them in our cathedral.

Amir Nadi, cousin of the late Tawadros Farag

My son left for Libya to improve his financial conditions, to cover the expenses in the creation of his new family and his new home. But he was killed because he was Coptic.

Nached Wilson, father of the late Samuel Nached

The State has kept its promises: it has taken care of the families of the dead and built the cathedral. We let justice take the place of revenge.

Baddar Samir Isaac, father of the late Essam Baddar