WASHINGTON — Catholic churches throughout the world were bathed in soft red light to honor martyrs and mark the “Courage in Red — Stand Up for Faith and Religious Freedom” campaign sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need.
So it was Nov. 28 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where a quiet vespers service, “A Night of Witness,” commemorated the martyrdom, just in the last two years, of some 22 members of the priesthood, most of them in Mexico and South America, and 82 others killed in terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Egypt.
Most martyrs are killed anonymously while simply going about their jobs before being caught up in the violence from civil wars and terrorist groups.
“They may not be on the covers of magazines. They may not ever make the news. But they gave their blood for the church,” observed Msgr. Vito Buonanno, director of pilgrimages at the basilica.
“Tonight, we seek to remember all of them,” said George Marlin, chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA, an international papal charity that provides pastoral and humanitarian aid to persecuted and oppressed Christians and supports various church projects in more than 140 countries.