Relics in Rome remember Christians killed in attack against churches

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The Roman church of St. Bartholomew on Tiberina Island preserves the memory of martyrs for the faith from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Most are not saints, but they shed their blood for being Christians. One example is the breviary of Fr. Jacques Hamel, killed by extremists in his church in France.

A few months ago, Sri Lankan Catholics brought an especially symbolic relic there.

Rector, San Antonio Sanctuary (Sri Lanka)
“This is the relic of the two churches in Sri Lanka that was attacked by the Easter Sunday bomb blast. The whole thing represents the entire community: little ones, the elders, and the Mass and the statues and our faith.”

On April 21, 2019, terrorists synchronously detonated bombs in churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

This priest is the rector of one of the churches. He has brought to Rome memories of those who gave their lives that day. They include a baby bottle from one of the victims, to pieces of glass from the windows, the rosary from a statue of the Blessed Mother and the purifier used during Mass.

But most importantly, it is the message he wants to convey.

Rector, San Antonio Sanctuary (Sri Lanka)
“The whole stand is about forgiveness, because it was Easter. We are preparing ourselves during Lent to forgive, and we are preparing ourselves to love one another, and the message was very clear: that was what Jesus told us on the Cross. Then, on Easter Sunday we want to celebrate. So I repeat it again, 'Forgive them Father, they do not know what they do.'”

Now the relics will have a special place in the heart of Rome. They are among other memoirs from heroes of the faith that the Community of St. Egidio is guarding.

These others include the rosary of Ceferino Giménez Malla, a gypsy killed in the Spanish civil war; the bible of Shabaaz Bhatti, a Pakistani minister killed for his work for religious minorities; and relics of Polish priest Jerzy Popieluzsko, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1984.

It's a place to remind Christians that today they should not be afraid of losing their lives by bearing witness to their faith.

Translation: Melissa Butz

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