Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Anglican Church remembers Coptic martyrs

(ICN) - The 21 Coptic Christians brutally executed in Libya one year ago remembered in a prayer service in the Palace of Westminster, during morning prayers at the Church of England General Synod, and in a Vespers Service at the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George in the United Kingdom.

A service of commemoration was held in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Palace of Westminster on 10 February 2016. The service was attended by members of both Houses of Parliament and co-hosted by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church and The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons. Prayers were offered, along with a moment of silence, in memory of the 21 Copts at opening prayers of Church of England General Synod.

Speaking in memory of the 21 Copts Bishop Angaelos said: "One profound result and gift of this horrific act is that it brought people together. These men paid the ultimate price, but gave us a cause to advocate for all those persecuted; they also showed us that there was a level of evil that we must all stand in solidarity against, and a level of courage, faithfulness and defiance that we must all aspire to."

Following the Westminster prayer service, The Lord Alton of Liverpool said: "It is especially important that we mark the anniversary of the brutal murder of the 21 Coptic Christians in Libya a year ago, not only to keep them in our memory, but to remember and advocate for all those who continue to face persecution in the Middle East. What is happening to Christians and minorities in the region is nothing short of Genocide and we must not stand by and watch as whole communities are eradicated."

After the service, The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin said: "In marking today we are sending a statement out to the world to say that these individuals are not forgotten. We remember them, we remember what happened to them, and we will forgive because we belong to God. I also hope that it is sending a message that we stand together."

Bishop Nigel Stock, Bishop at Lambeth, who also represented the Archbishop of Canterbury at the service, said: "Proclaiming the Christian Faith is very costly, and we remember a year ago when we heard the news of this terrible crime how shocking it was for the whole Church as it brought home the dangers that people are facing and the consequences of violence that is motivated by hatred of a particular religion.

It was good to see that this service was attended by people from both Houses and others because it sends a sign that this is of concern for the whole world and the whole Church. We have been told the stories of how these young men did not waver in their Faith, kept proclaiming Christ as they fell as martyrs, and that courage, that sheer strength of Faith in Christ, is an inspiration for all of us."

Vespers prayers are being held today in the Cathedral of Saint George at The Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in the United Kingdom in memory of the 21 Copts who lost their lives on 15 February 2015, also remembering their families and others who continue to suffer religious persecution around the world.


  1. I wonder when the canonical Orthodox jurisdictions will choose a date for the commemoration of the 21st century New Martyrs of Egypt, Libya, and Syria, and the rest of the Middle East. The speedy canonization of the 21 Martyrs of Libya by the Coptic church is a model to follow. I'd say we should add them to our menaion as it stands, but surely someone or other would bellyache about "monophysitism" being implicitly sanctioned. Even if this were not a non-sequitur, martyrdom is as good as a repudiation of errors, being itself a baptism in blood.

  2. Bellyache:

    Perhaps we pray for them and their families instead of venerating heterodox martyrs, just an idea. If not, we should begin to venerate Roman Catholic, Nestorian, Protestant and every other type of Christian slain by that godless scourge.

    Martyrdom is a repudiation of errors? I've never heard of this idea, and I hope it does in their case; although the exact opposite idea is very prevalent. Saint Cyprian of Carthage said that even if those not in communion with the Church “were slain in confession of the Name, that stain is not even washed away by blood: the inexpiable and grave fault of discord is not even purged by suffering. He cannot be a martyr who is not in the Church.” And St. John Chrysostom, showing that he both read and agreed, quoted him in his eleventh homily on the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians: “Now a certain holy man said what might seem to be a bold thing; yet, nevertheless, he spoke it out. What then is this? He said, that not even the blood of martyrdom can wash out this sin. For tell me for what dost thou suffer as a martyr? Is it not for the glory of Christ? Thou then that yieldest up thy life for Christ’s sake, how dost thou lay waste the Church, for whose sake Christ yielded up His life?”

    Obviously, these men were not responsible for the schism, just inheritors of it. Therefore, we should offer up prayers on their behalf instead of putting forth some personal theory about martyrdom making one automatically Orthodox and a member of the Church.

  3. Maximus, I respect your zeal however I disagree with your use of Sts Cyprian and John Chrysostom. In any case, I am sure you will agree that to go down in the flames consciously dividing the church is a far cry from confessing Jesus Christ at the edge of a sword. May they attain to a better resurrection. Forgive my ignorance.

  4. Peregrinus,

    And I respect your zeal for the righteousness that those brave men displayed. However, we should all realize that not too many of the heresiarchs and schismatics sought to consciously divide the Church. They truly believed that they were striving through the narrow gate. Those Coptic men did not divide the Church, however they were divided from it nonetheless. Therefore, my reluctance.

  5. This is such a positive article. Good to see the Coptic saints venerated and respected by all.