Red Wednesday recalls the blood of the martyrs

By Catherine Sheehan

On the evening of 24 November, St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart was floodlit in red, the liturgical colour for martyrs, as a sign of solidarity with the many Christians around the world persecuted for their faith.

This was the second year the diocese has participated in Red Wednesday, an initiative of international Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, to raise awareness of religious persecution. A prayer service was led by Archbishop Julian and testimonies given by those who have suffered persecution for their faith.

Sr Chidi Njoku spoke about the sufferings of Christians in Nigeria.

“We are aware that there are many Christians who in the course of the year have died because of their faith,” Archbishop Julian said.

“We commend them to the Lord and also pray for their family, friends and fellow Christians who mourn their loss.”

Many Christians in different parts of the world faced persecution, Archbishop Julian said.

“Today, close to 70 percent of the world’s population live in countries without full access to religious freedom, and 50 percent of the world’s population live in countries where there is outright persecution.”

Don Malshan spoke about the Easter Sunday bombings Negombo in Sri Lanka in 2019.

Don Malshan and his cousin Fiona Rodrigo spoke about their experience of the Easter Sunday bombings Negombo in Sri Lanka in 2019, when three churches and three hotels were attacked. More than 300 people were killed, many as they attended Easter Sunday Mass. Mr Malshan and Ms Rodrigo lost their cousin, Manik Sooriyarachchi in the bombings.

“Among the 300 martyrs was our beloved cousin, and her daughter,” Ms Rodrigo said.

“It has been more than two years since the attack and people are still injured both physically and mentally, due to no justice towards those innocent people, who wouldn’t have had a clue as to what happened to them,” Ms Rodrigo said.

Archbishop Julian delivers his homily for Red Wednesday at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart.

Mr Malshan said he felt angry immediately after the deadly attacks.

“But last Easter, on Good Friday, while remembering the last seven words of Christ, one word crossed my mind: ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.’ I came to the realisation that it needs more courage and strength to forgive rather than hate.

“Today I’ve completely forgiven them and I find peace in my mind, but I’m still waiting for justice. Let us remember all those beautiful souls in our prayers.”

Sr Chidi Njoku spoke about the sufferings of Christians in Nigeria, at the hands of Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram.

“Many go through so much just to proclaim their faith in God,” she said.

From January to July this year 3,462 Christians have been killed and 300 churches attacked in Nigeria, Sr Chidi said.

“I pray not for those who are killed because our faith tells us they are in heaven. But I pray for those who go through it daily and who based on the faith they have in God continue to go through this daily.”

A prayer service was held at St Mary’s Cathedral in Hobart for Red Wednesday, as a sign of solidarity with those persecuted for their faith.

Those gathered for the prayer service were invited to place lighted candles around a crucifix in front of the altar, in memory of those persecuted for their faith.

“Each brother and sister in the faith who suffers for their love of Christ, stands at the foot of the cross and is united with the sufferings of Christ,” Archbishop Julian said.

“Their suffering becomes, in a mysterious way, redemptive.”

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