Sunday, February 22, 2015

New Martyrs

Tony Rezk, 21 Coptic Martyrs of Libya
American, 2015
Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California 
and Hawaii
As the world is now aware, twenty-one men from Egypt were beheaded by ISIS in Libya last week simply for being  Coptic Christians. Many of them are reported to have died confessing their faith verbally.

Their deaths certainly meet the classic definition of martyrdom for the faith.  And, the Coptic church has announced that they will henceforth be commemorated as martyrs, with a feast day on February 15th each year.  A new icon has been drawn by the artist Tony Rezk for the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii.  The icon shows them lined up, kneeling on a beach, with the ocean behind them.  The setting , and the orange shaded robes they wear, reflect the actual scene of their deaths -- kneeling, with their backs to the Mediterranean and wearing orange overalls.  The red sashes crossed over their torsos reflect their blood, shed for Christ, while the halos reflect their new status and angels prepare to shower them with the crown of martyrdom.

With their deaths and with the recent Vatican decision to recognize Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador as a martyr we can see that martyrdom is not something from the past.  It can occur at any time and in any place today.  May the Martyrs of Libya pray for us and for their suffering brothers and sisters.

© M. Duffy, 2015

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