By: Agenzia Fides (Vatican) –
This year again, the Coptic Orthodox Church paid homage, with prayers and celebrations, to the memory of the workers who, seven years ago, were slaughtered and beheaded on a beach in Libya by jihadist terrorists, and died murmuring the name of Christ.
This year, as reported by Agenzia Fides (Fides, 4/1/2022), the Coptic Orthodox diocese of Samalut, in the province of Minya, proposed to live as a time of spiritual awakening the celebrations and commemorative moments planned on the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the martyrdom of the twenty Egyptian Coptic Christians massacred on a beach in Libya in February 2015 with one of their fellow Ghanaians by terrorists linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State (Daesh).
Liturgical and ecclesial events celebrated in memory of the martyrs since the beginning of the month culminated with the liturgies celebrated on February 15 at the shrine built in their honor in record time in al Awar, the village from which most of them came. Anba Pavnotios, Coptic Orthodox bishop of Samalut, in his announcement of the commemorative events – liturgical celebrations, conferences, visits to the shrine-museum, prayer meetings – invited everyone to cherish the blessings and spiritual blessings that the martyrs of Libya will bring to those who will commemorate them with emotion and gratitude.
In recent hours, many Egyptian social media users have shared on their personal accounts the photos and messages of young married couples who decided to celebrate their wedding on Tuesday February 15, the day the Coptic Orthodox Church decided to celebrate the liturgical memory of the martyrs of Libya.
The 20 Egyptian Copts and their Ghanaian co-worker were kidnapped in Libya in early January 2015. The video of their beheading was posted online by jihadist sites on February 15. The mortal remains of the Copts killed in Libya were identified at the end of September 2017 in a mass grave on the Libyan coast, near the city of Sirte. Their bodies were found with their hands tied behind their backs, dressed in the same orange jumpsuit they wore in the macabre video filmed by the executioners at the time of their beheading. In the video of their execution, it is clearly seen that many of the martyrs mutter the words “Lord Jesus Christ” as they are savagely slaughtered.
Last year, in a video message sent on the occasion of the “Day of Contemporary Martyrs” organized by the Coptic Orthodox Diocese on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the massacre, Pope Francis also recalled that the Coptic martyrs of Libya “died saying, ‘Lord Jesus!’, confessing the name of Jesus” while their throats were being slain. Thus, added the Bishop of Rome on this occasion, they “they received the greatest gift a Christian can receive: the testimony of Jesus Christ to the point of giving their life”. This is why now “they are our saints, the saints of all Christians, the saints of all Christian denominations and traditions.