Everyone remembers these terrible footage: 21 men in orange- scarlet outfit bound in chains. Those Coptic Christians were kidnapped several days ago by the Islamic State that brought them to a beach in Sirte, Libya.
They walk on a deserted beach on the African coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The men in black waving the reviled flag of hatred, barbarism and bloodthirsty extremism, have sworn the loss and death of these 21 men kneeling on the wet sand.
Yet it is not the executioners we look at, it is not the murderers we listen to... Sitting in front of them, future martyrs don't move, they don't scream either. They are impassive, proud! They show no fear, no weakness and at a specific time of the video, we even see one of these Christians with a slight smile on his face: he knows it, in a few seconds he will be with God and all the martyrs who died before him.
What pride, courage, faith! These 21 Coptic martyrs are already radiating Holiness!
It was on February 15, 6 years ago, that these 21 sons of God lost their lives and earned eternity due to their Christian faith.
The Coptic Church immediately recognized them as holy martyrs who gave their lives for Christ and as early as 2016, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi announced the construction of a huge church dedicated to martyrs in Al-Minya, the home city of the 21.
The 4.000 square meter building is inaugurated on February 15, 2018 in the presence of His Holiness Tawadros II, Orthodox Coptic Pope of Alexandria, patriarch of all Africa and the siege of St. Mark and the President Sissi.
Since the restitution of the bodies to Egypt on May 14, 2018, the remains of the martyrs have been exposed for the veneration of the faithful. Icons are painted representing them in bright orange outfit, with their heads looking to the sky and the Lord welcoming them with open arms.
Their memory is now celebrated every year on February 15 in all the Coptic dioceses in the world.
In a union of prayers with our Coptic brothers and sisters, Christians around the world and all Churches also honor their memories and martyrs.
And if some still find the strength to watch this terrible video that leads to the execution of the 21, you will surely see the serenity and strength of the faces, you will definitely hear the “Ya Rabbi Yassu” – “O my Lord Jesus” ... tears and fear had disappeared, the love of the Lord and the saving courage of the Copts had triumph that day.
May Christ protect us and that through the intercession of the 21 Coptic martyrs of Libya we remain strong and firm in our Christian faith.
It was February 15th, let's not forget them.
Jérôme Cochet, head of mission in Egypt.