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Icona Bizantina del Crocifisso


"Statio" inside the Colosseum

While the Holy Father, the Representatives of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and the ministers enter the Colosseum for the "statio", the choir sings:

(Entrance song)

Liturgical Greeting and Doxology

The Holy Father:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
R/. And also with you.

A Representative of the Greek Orthodox Church:

Blessed be the Kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and for all ages. (In Greek)
R/. Amen. Alleluia.

A Representative of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities:

Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created (Rev 4:11)
R/. Amen. Alleluia.

A Representative of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing (Rev 5:12)
R/. Amen. Alleluia.

A Representative of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities:

Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and by your blood you ransomed for God men of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them a kingdom and priests to our God and they shall reign on earth (Rev 5:9-10)
R/. Amen. Alleluia

A Representative of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities:

To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might for ever and ever (Rev 5:13).
R/. Amen. Amen. Alleluia. Alleluia


The Latin Deacon signals the beginning of the procession towards the outside of the Colosseum:
Procedamus in pace.

The assembly:
In nomine Christi. Amen.

The choir and the assembly sing:


Introduction and Prayer

When the procession reaches the place of the celebration the Holy Father says:


Dear Brothers and Sisters: in this Jubilee year, the joy-filled memorial of Christ's coming into the world, in the Easter light of his Resurrection, we, as Christians, join in remembering before God and before the world the witnesses to the faith in the twentieth century.

We celebrate this memorial here, at the Colosseum, and close to other places where so many of our brothers and sisters in the first centuries of the Church made their "noble profession" by the shedding of their blood which then became the seed of Christians.

The twentieth century too saw the witness of many Christians who professed their faith amid persecutions, in prison, even to shedding their blood for their fidelity to Jesus and to his holy Church.

Confirmed in faith and strengthened in hope y the example of so many followers of the Lamb who was slain, may all Christians be a sign of love and be recognized in this way as disciples of Jesus Christ.

All pray silently. The Holy Father then says the following...


Let us pray.
Almighty and ever-living God, we give you thanks because by your Holy Spirit you always accompany Christ's followers in the world. 
May their faithfulness even to death, their hope in eternal life and their love for you and for their brothers and sisters inspire us to bear authentic witness to you in the fullness of communion.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.


First Reading

The faith of the baptized tried by fire

From the first letter of Saint Peter 1:3-9, 13-21

Song between the Readings

The wedding feast of the Lamb
Revelation 19: 1-7

Second Reading

Surrounded by this great cloud of witnesses
From the Letter to the Hebrews 12: 1-6, 18-19a, 22-24

Gospel Acclamation

The choir:
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia

The assembly repeats: Alleluia

The choir: Jn 12:24-25
If the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone;
but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

The assembly: Alleluia

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world
will keep it for eternal life .

The assembly: Alleluia


Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
Mt 5: 1-12

The text is proclaimed in a Western and an Eastern language.

At the conclusion of the Gospel, the assembly acclaims the Risen Christ in the words of the ancient evening hymn Phos hilaron, sung in Greek (or Slavonic).

The Holy Father gives the homily.


The Sign of Peace


The choir:
R. Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.

The assembly repeats: Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.

The Orthodox Deacon (in Greek):
Let us love one another, so that in unity of spirit we may profess our faith in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit: the consubstantial and undivided Trinity.

The Latin Deacon:
Before we join in professing our faith, let us exchange a sign of peace, in the love of Christ who has gathered us in his name and in the memory of the witnesses who have given their lives in fearless witness to the faith of the Apostles.

And all exchange a sign of peace as a sign of fraternal communion.

The choir:
Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.

Profession of Faith

The Holy Father:

As we give thanks to God for the witnesses to Christ in the twentieth century, let us proclaim our faith: the faith of the Apostles and the martyrs, the faith of the undivided Church. For this faith our brothers and sisters suffered and gave their lives; often they set out for death professing in their hearts and on their lips their fidelity to the Gospel.

(The profession of the Apostles' Creed follows.)

The cantor:

R/. Credimus, Domine. Amen.

The assembly repeats: Credimus, Domine. Amen.

A Representative of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities:
We believe in God, the Father Almighty, the maker of heaven and earth.

R/. Credimus, Domine. Amen.

A Representative of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities:
We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, died and was buried, rose from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

R/. Credimus, Domine. Amen.

A Representative of the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities:
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

R/. Credimus, Domine. Amen.

Testimonies e Commemoration

The Holy Father:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses.
In the presence of God and of the glorious Lamb who once was slain,
in the grace of the Holy Spirit,
let us commemorate before the Church and before the world
the witnesses to the faith in the twentieth century:
the countless unknown soldiers
who fought for the great cause of the Gospel.
With gratitude and hope,
with remembrance and heartfelt forgiveness,
let us listen to the accounts of the sufferings and the love
shown by some of our brothers and sisters in faith.
They are men and women of every land and people,
they belong to every Church and Christian community,
they are of all ages and callings.
Let us listen and remember,
that we may never forget
the courageous witness of their faith and love.

1. Christians who bore witness to their faith under Soviet totalitarianism


His Holiness Tichon, Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church

His Holiness Tichon was born in 1865, became a monk in 1891 and a bishop in 1897. In November 1917 he was chosen by the local Council to lead the Russian Orthodox Church. He spent his life defending the faith and the Church during the period in which the Soviet regime first came to power, enduring attacks, defamation and pressures of every kind. He died on 7 April 1925. His funeral was Moscow's last mass display of religion in the 1920s.

In an open letter dated 12 February 1918 and addressed to Nikolaj Troizkij, priest of the Eparchy of Tomsk, the Patriarch wrote:

"On Russian soil too there have been confessors and martyrs of charity for their flock . . . In these evil times the Lord has raised up a series of new martyrs who have had a share in his Passion, bishops and priests ... killed and tortured by crazed and unhappy children of our country. Yes, let this cup pass us by. But if the Lord sends us trials of persecution, chains, torture and even death, with patience we shall endure it all, with faith that this will not happen to us without God's willing it and that our trials will not be without fruit, but will be like the sufferings of the Christian martyrs who conquered the world and brought it to Christ's teaching"
(Source: N. Struve, Les Chrétiens en U.R.S.S.).


Ol'ga Jafa, witness of the Solovki Islands

Ol'ga Jafa, Russian teacher and painter, was born in 1876. She was exiled to the Solovki Islands from August 1929 to January 1931. At the time of her liberation she managed to salvage a series of documents concerning the history of the camp. She died in 1959. The manuscript of her memoirs, preserved in the city library of Saint Petersburg, is entitled The Island of Good Wishes. There we read:

"United in their labours, a young Catholic bishop and an Orthodox bishop worked together. The latter was an old man, emaciated and gaunt, with a gray beard, ancient of days but strong in spirit, who briskly carried his load . . . Who among us will some day have the good fortune of returning to the world and testifying to what we have seen here? And what we have seen is the rebirth of the pure and authentic faith of the first Christians, the union of the Churches in the person of the Catholic and Orthodox bishops who together shared in the same undertaking, a union in love and in humility"
(Source: J. Brodskil, Solovki, p. 152).


Remember, most merciful Father, all those who bore witness to their faith in prisons, concentration camps and gulags. They are an immense and nameless multitude which no one can count: Metropolitans and Bishops, priests and deacons, monks and nuns, pastors and laypersons, men and women with unshakable faith in the Resurrection of Christ. They experienced the Beatitude of the persecuted and they found strength in your consolation.
Father, remember them all.
R/. Kyrie eleison.

2. Witnesses to the faith who were victims of Communism in other nations of Europe


Joan Suciu, Romanian Greek Catholic Bishop

Bishop Joan Suciu was born on 3 December 1907. A Romanian Greek Catholic, he was ordained a priest on 29 November 1931. He was particularly involved in youth ministry. On 20 July 1940 he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Oradea Mare and then, in 1946, Apostolic Administrator of the See of Blaj. Bishop Suciu gave a series of talks in the principal cities of the country, on which occasions he clearly stated that it was not possible to reconcile Christianity and atheistic materialism. In 1947 several priests who were among the Bishop's closest collaborators were arrested. On 24 May 1950 he himself was taken to the prison of Sighet where he suffered hunger, cold and sickness, together with numerous tortures. On 27 May 1953 Bishop Joan Suciu died in prison.

In 1948 he had been the originator of a joint letter of the Romanian Greek Catholic Bishops, in which he affirmed:

"Good Friday has arrived for the Church. It is time, beloved faithful people, to show whether we are with Christ or whether we are traitors like Judas . . . Do not be deceived by vain words, by political parties, by promises, by lies; remain strong, resolute, firm in the faith for which your parents and forebears shed their blood . . . We have no desire to sell out Jesus or the Church . . . If they take your churches, pray to the Lord, like the first Christians did when the pagan emperors destroyed their places of prayer and burnt the holy books"
(Source: Le Calvaire de la Roumanie Chrétienne, pp. 68-73).


Father Anton Luli, Albanian Jesuit

Father Anton Luli, a Jesuit, was born in Albania in 1910. He was rector of the Jesuit College and Seminary in Shkodrë. During the Communist regime, he was imprisoned for seventeen years, followed by eleven years of forced labour, and he was prevented from exercising his priestly ministry. Released in 1989, he immediately began to administer the sacraments, despite the fact that religious freedom had not yet been restored. He died in Rome on 9 March 1998.

At the Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops, which began on 28 November 1991, he gave this testimony:

"I learned what freedom is at eighty years of age, when I was able to celebrate my first Mass with the people. The years spent in prison were truly terrifying. During my first month, on the night of Christmas, they made me strip and hung me from the rafters with a rope, so that I could touch the ground only with the tip of my toes. It was cold. I felt the icy chill moving up my body: it was as though I were slowly dying. When the freezing cold was about to arrive at my chest, I groaned desperately. My torturers heard, they kicked me mercilessly and then took me down. They often tortured me with electricity, putting the two electrodes in my ears: it was an indescribably horrible experience. That I remained alive is a miracle of God's grace. I bless the Lord who gave me, his poor and weak minister, the grace to remain faithful to him in a life lived almost entirely in chains. Many of my confreres died as martyrs: it was my lot, however, to remain alive, in order to bear witness".


Remember, O God and lover of life, all our brothers and sisters, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant, who in many European nations under Communism patiently, even heroically, endured persecution, imprisonment, torture, abuse and death for the sake of the Gospel and because of their fidelity to their Church, often praying for their persecutors. They have experienced the Beatitude of the poor and they have been found worthy of your Kingdom.
May their memory be blessed, now and for ever.
R/. Kyrie eleison.

Choral Interlude (Easter liturgical chant from the Slavic tradition)

3. Confessors of the faith who were victims of Nazism and Fascism


Father Leonhard Steinwender on Lutheran Pastor Paul Schneider

Paul Schneider, a Lutheran pastor, was born in 1897 and became a member of the circle of pastors founded by Pastor Martin Niemoller. He was deported to Buchenwald in 1937 because of his opposition to Nazism. In the concentration camp he was the object of maltreatment and torture because he refused to pay homage to Hitler's swastika. In April 1938, he was put in solitary confinement in the camp's bunker, and it was here he spent the last fourteen months of his life. From the bunker, however, he did not cease to preach, to denounce crimes and to offer comfort to his fellow prisoners. He died on 18 July 1939, as a result of torture and medical experimentation.

From his cell, Pastor Schneider proclaimed the Word of God in the camp, as Leonhard Steinwender, an Austrian Catholic priest also interned in Buchenwald, relates:

"In front of the single-storeyed building of the camp there stretched the immense parade-ground... On feast-days, in the silence of the roll-call, suddenly from behind the barred dinginess of the camp, there echoed the powerful voice of Pastor Schneider. He would preach like a prophet, or rather, he would try to preach. On Easter Sunday, for instance, we heard to our surprise the powerful words: 'Thus says the Lord: I am the Resurrection and the Life!' The long lines of prisoners stood at attention, deeply moved by the courage and energy of that indomitable will... He could never utter more than a few phrases. Then we would hear raining down on him the blows of guards' truncheons"
(Source: M.D. Schneider, Il predicatore di Buchenwald: Il martirio del predicatore P. Schneider, Turin, 1996).


Ignacy Jez, Bishop Emeritus of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg.

Bishop Ignacy Jez was one of the many Polish priests interned in concentration camps. He was ordained a priest on 20 June 1937. In the fifth year of his priesthood he was brought to the camp at Dachau as No. 37196.

He left the following testimony:

"The concentration camps were death camps. They were rightly called Vernichtungslager, 'extermination camps', by those familiar with people who spent time there. To clarify matters, it was said that 'the only road to freedom for such people leads through the crematorium'.

The title of my recollections of the three years I spent in in the lager at Dachau was taken from the canticles of the Old Testament: 'Light and darkness, bless the Lord' (Dn 3,72). To me those years seemed a time of immense darkness. But alongside the darkness, one could also see the truth of Saint Paul's words in the Letter to the Romans: 'where sin increased, grace abounded all the more' (Rm 5,20). The signs of this were quite numerous. Our spiritual strength increased thanks to the priests who were also also interned, at times too because of the positive attitude of the lay persons who recited prayers in common each evening in the dormitories after lights off, and at other times because of Holy Communion, received from Block 26, despite the fact that it was officially prohibited by the camp regulations".


Remember, God of the darkness of Good Friday, God of the great silence of Holy Saturday and God also of the joyful dawn of the Resurrection, all those Christians who were victims of Nazism - Lutheran, Reformed, Catholic and Orthodox, together with their brothers and sisters of other faiths. They endured the burden of forced labour, violations of their human dignity, hunger and thirst, the obliteration of their memory and finally death in the gas chambers and the ovens. They bore witness to the Beatitude and the power of Gospel meekness. They did not succumb to the power of darkness; resisting evil, they proclaimed the power of the God of life.
May the memory of your just ones remain ever alive in you and in us.
R/. Kyrie eleison.

4. Followers of Christ who gave their lives for the proclamation of the Gospel in Asia and Oceania


Margherita Chou

Margherita Chou, a Chinese Catholic, was arrested at the age of 22 and spent the years from 1958 to 1979 either in prison or in labour camps. She writes of her experience:

"In the prison factory we worked eighteen hours a day, seven days a week. The drums would wake us up at four every morning. Before long, due to extreme fatigue, I lost my appetite. At night, I just collapsed on my bed without even washing my face. The routine kept on for one year.
A few days after I arrived at the prison, the officer asked me: "What is your crime?". I snapped back: "I did not commit any crime. I was arrested because I was a Catholic and tried to defend my faith". The officer became very angry and shouted: "If you did not commit any crime, why are you here?". I was stunned by his extreme anger and shut up. The whole factory was dead silent. Because of this incident I discovered several Catholics. We quickly united. Among them was a girl named Tsou who was turned in by a priest in the government-sponsored Patriotic Association. She was especially good to me. Unfortunately, after four years, she broke down mentally. The officer even used her mental condition as a violation of prison regulations. They tied her up. They hung her up and beat her. They extended her sentence twice. Although she has now completed her time, she is still in the labor camp as of this date without proper care".
(Manuscript text in James T. Myers, Nemici senza fucile. La Chiesa cattolica nella Repubblica popolare cinese, Jaca Book, Milano 1994, pp. 252-263)


Bishop Philip Strong, Anglican Bishop of Papua New Guinea

On 2 September 1942 Philip Strong, the Anglican Bishop of Papua New Guinea, was interned in a concentration camp together with his co-workers, eight ministers and two lay people. He refused to leave the country, despite the fact that the advance of the war had placed the lives of European missionaries at risk.

Shortly before his arrest he wrote to his clergy:

"We must endeavour to carry on our work. God expects this of us. The church at home, which sent us out, will surely expect it of us. The universal church expects it of us. The people whom we serve expect it of us. We could never hold up our faces again if, for our own safety, we all forsook Him and fled, when the shadows of the Passion began to gather around Him in his spiritual and mystical Body, the church in Papua".

(Source: The Book of Common Prayer of the U. S. Episcopal Church, Current (1979) Edition, Lectionary, September 2; Celebrating the Saints Daily: Spiritual Readings for the Calendar of the Church of England, Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1988. Calendar, September 2).


Remember, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, all those who not only believed but also gave their lives for the Gospel which they preached in Asia and Oceania: pastors and faithful, religious men and women, catechists and laity, mothers and fathers, often united in their sufferings by a new bond of communion and fraternity, and a readiness to give their lives for one another. They have shown the power and the beauty of the Beatitude of the peacemakers and they shall be called children of God.
May their names be written in heaven.
R/. Kyrie eleison.

Choral Interlude (chant from the Asian tradition)

5. Christian faithful persecuted out of hatred for the Catholic faith


Manuel Irujo, Minister of Justice in the Spanish Republican Government

A Catholic, the Justice Minister Irujo tendered his resignation on 11 December 1937 after having failed to re-establish freedom of worship, but he continued to be a member of the Government. At the end of 1937 he was given the task of negotiating with some representatives of the Church, especially Cardinal Vidal y Barraquer, Archbishop of Tarragona.
In a memorandum presented at a Government meeting in the then capital of the Republic, Valencia, on 9 January 1937, he thus described the religious persecutions which had occurred during the first six months of the civil war:

"Priests and religious have been arrested, thrown into prison, and shot in their thousands without any form of trial, and these incidents, although fewer in number, are still occurring. Not only in country villages where they are hunted down and killed in savage fashion, but also in towns and cities. ... Hundreds have been arrested and held in prison for no known crime other than that they are priests or religious. ... The police, who are carrying out house-to-house searches, making inquiries in homes, investigating the lives of individuals and families, destroy with scorn and violence religious pictures, printed materials, books, and anything connected with worship or which is a reminder of it"
(From the Memorandum of January 1937).


Bishop José de Jesus Manriquez y Zarate, Catholic Bishop of Huejutla

Born in 1884, he studied at the Pio Latin-American College in Rome. He was Bishop of Huejutla (Hidalgo State) from 1922 to 1939. He was the most intransigent opponent of the anti-religious policy of President Calles. In May 1926, a few months before the outbreak of the Cristeros civil war, he was arrested and placed under house-arrest because of his criticism of the anti-clerical Constitution which came into effect in 1917. Later he was forced into exile with all the other Mexican Bishops. The Government imposed this exile as a condition for the pacification of the country, which was arrived at in June 1929. The Bishop returned to the country, but was exiled again in 1932. He died in 1951. On 30 October 1927, in Laredo, Texas, on the Feast of Christ the King, he had this to say:

"The Great Sacrifice is no longer offered on the altars, the churches are deserted, consecrated women in tears and priests silently weep or endure the bitterness of exile; many of Mexico's children have been barbarously sacrificed, others are in prison and a huge multitude has gone to foreign lands in search of refuge and bread.

And how has Mexico responded to all these wrongs? By proclaiming before the world the kingship of Christ; by praising and blessing Christ and kneeling before the Holy One of the Lord, to ask mercy and forgiveness. Mexico has had the very high honour of proclaiming Christ the King on the battlefields in the heart of the twentieth century, and, before the admiring gaze of other nations, she has vigorously defended her faith, not only with prayers, not only with reparation, but by pouring out her generous blood in torrents."
(Consuelo Reguer, Dios y mi direcho, Mexico 1997, pp. 704-705).


Remember, Father of holiness and fidelity, the immense assembly of all your sons and daughters who suffered persecution in some nations, even traditionally Catholic nations. They did not renounce the faith of their Baptism and in various ways proclaimed the name of Christ the King and Saviour. They experienced the Beatitude of those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake and they remained faithful to the end.
May they receive from you the crown of glory.
R/. Kyrie eleison.

6. Witnesses of evangelization in Africa and Madagascar


Jolique Rusimbamigera, a seminarian from Burundi

Jolique Rusimbamigera was a student in the seminary of Buta when on 30 April 1997, although gravely wounded, he escaped from the massacre in which forty-four Hutu and Tutsi seminarians was killed because they refused to separate along ethnic lines.
A year later he gave this testimony:

"There were very many of them, a hundred it seemed to me. They entered our dormitory, the one of the three classes of the senior years, and they shot in the air four times to wake us up... Immediately they began to threaten us, and moving between the beds they ordered us to separate, Hutus on one side and Tutsis on the other. They were armed to the teeth: rifles, grenades, pistols, knives... But we stayed together as a group! Then their leader lost patience and gave the order: 'Shoot these idiots who won't separate'. They fired the first shots at the ones under the beds... As we lay in our blood, we prayed and begged pardon for those who were killing us. I heard the voices of my companions who were saying, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing'. Deep within, I uttered the same words and offered my life into God's hands".


W.G.R. Jotcham, a young Baptist medical missionary from Canada, who died in Nigeria

W. G. R. Jotcham, a young Baptist medical missionary from Canada, was born in 1915. Immediately after graduation he joined other missionaries working in the leprosarium in Katsina, in a Moslem area of Nigeria. In 1938, a meningitis epidemic struck the leprosarium and the nearby villages. Dr Jotcham worked tirelessly in the effort to assist the badly stricken population. He died at the age of 23, himself a victim of the epidemic. His first months of service were for him a great discovery of God's love, which he himself defined as a power capable of "reawakening the buried hopes of old people without love, of the blind, the crippled and those who have no voice".

"Who knows what thoughts lie hidden behind these faces? But we who see them can at least think of when Jesus walked among lepers with a very special compassion and cured them. These broken hearts have never been nourished with the bread of heaven, these chill lives have never heard the Gospel story. What a privilege to be among the first to bring the good news of salvation..."
(J. M. Hefley, By Their Blood: Christian Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, Grand Rapids, 1996, pp. 429-430).


Remember, Father of heaven and earth, all those Christians - Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant - who proclaimed the Gospel of truth and life in the bountiful lands home to the ancient and yet young Churches in Africa and Madagascar. With great effort they sowed the Word of life, watering it with their blood; at every moment of the great work of evangelization, their lives were images of that Word. They were witnesses of the Beatitude of the merciful; they prayed and offered their lives for their friends and their persecutors.
May these forebears in the faith be eternally remembered.
R/. Kyrie eleison.

Choral Interlude (chant from the African tradition)

7. Christians who gave their lives for love of Christ and their brothers and sisters in America


The Most Reverend Alejandro Labaka, Catholic Bishop of Aguarico (Ecuador)

Bishop Labaka was born in Spain on 19 April 1920 in the small Basque village of Beizama. He became a Capuchin friar and had a strong sense of his missionary vocation, which was later reinforced when he took part in the Second Vatican Council. This vocation led him first to China and then to Ecuador. Here he was Parish Priest of Pifo, Guardian of the Capuchins in Ecuador, and then Prefect and Vicar Apostolic of the Mission of Aguarico. He spent all his energies on behalf of the Amazonian people, the Huaorani, also known as the Acuas, internally divided among themselves into various sub-groups often at odds with one another and threatened with extinction. He gave his life for them.

On 22 July 1987, together with Sister Inés Arango, also a Capuchin missionary, he was killed by the spears of the people to whom he had sought to proclaim the Gospel. While in Rome for the Council in 1965, he wrote to Pope Paul VI:

"I felt very strongly within me the command to preach to all peoples and especially to these 'Acuas'. An effort to approach them began, but - and this is my question - to what point can I put at risk the life of missionaries, of lay people, and my own life 'propter evangelium'?... Most Holy Father: if in God's plans it is necessary to sacrifice some lives in order to bring Christ to these tribes, then please offer us up, together with the Divine Victim, in your Holy Mass, so that we may be worthy of this grace and that we may obtain a special blessing for all the missionaries and for all who have been entrusted to us"
(Sources: Rufino Maria Grande, Arrescar la vida por el Evangelio, Cicame - Coca 1997; Alejandro Labaca, Cronica Huaorani, Cicame 1997; Juan Santos Ortiz de Villalba, Tres nombres y una voz, Cicame 1996; P. Alfonso Miranda OFM, Relato del martirio de Monsenor Alejandro Labaka y la hermana Inés Arango, in ACNM CE/II-15).


The Most Reverend Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve, Catholic Bishop of Strumniza (Colombia)

Bishop Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve was born in Colombia on 14 February 1916 in the village of Santo Domingo, Antioquia. On 3 December 1944, he made Solemn Profession in the Yarumal Foreign Mission Institute. Ordained priest on 1 September 1940, he was consecrated Bishop and Vicar Apostolic of Arauca on 11 November 1970 and titular Bishop of Strumniza on 10 January 1971. In his Diocese he had to confront violence and social injustice. On 2 October 1989, at the age of 73, he was tortured and killed by a group of guerillas during a pastoral visit to rural parishes in the Diocese.
From his writings:

"Where will we find a more perfect gift, to be taught the bitter experience of dying, if not in Jesus Christ?... It is my desire that death be the ultimate moment of my incorporation into Christ, a sharing in his pain and an expiation of my own sins and the sins of others. It is my desire, with all my frail nature, to divinize my suffering and my fear, uniting myself to the terror of the suffering Christ. Above all I confirm my faith in the Resurrection of Christ".
(Source: S.E. Mons. Jesús Emilio Jaramillo, He ahí al Hombre, Palabras fugaces sobre Cristo. Ed. Seminario de Misiones Extranjeras, Yarumal, Antioquia, Colombia, 1962, p. 172)


Remember, Father of the poor and the outcast, all those who bore witness to the truth and the charity of the Gospel in America, even to the sacrifice of their own lives: zealous pastors, generous priests, courageous catechists, men and women religious faithful to their consecration, laity committed to the service of peace and justice, witnesses of fraternity without limits. They showed the grandeur of the Beatitude of those who hunger and thirst for God's righteousness.

May they find peace in the vision of your countenance and be for us witnesses of hope.
R/. Kyrie eleison.

8. Witnesses to the faith in different parts of the world


Dom Christian de Chergé, Prior of the Monastery of Notre Dame de l'Atlas (Tibherin, Algeria)

The Trappists of the Monastery of Notre Dame de l'Atlas in Tibherin (Algeria) had devoted their lives to dialogue with Islam and had chosen to remain in their monastery, even though it was located in the mountainous region of Medea, a high-risk area.

Dom Christian de Chergé had written: "Our state as monks [ruhban] binds us to the choice which God has made of us, which is for prayer and for a life of simplicity, manual labour, hospitality and sharing with all, especially the poor...". Seized by armed terrorists on the night between 26 and 27 March 1996, they were killed on 21 May 1996.

In his spiritual testament, Dom Christian de Chergé had written:

"When the time comes, I would like to be able to have that moment of lucidity which would permit me to ask forgiveness of God and of my brothers in humanity, forgiving whole-heartedly, at the same time, whoever strikes me. I do not see in fact how I could rejoice in the fact that this people whom I love should be accused of my murder. It would be too high a price a pay, to owe what might be called "the grace of martyrdom to an Algerian, whoever he may be, above all if he says he is acting in fidelity to what he believes to be Islam [...].
And you too, friend of the last moment, who will not know what you are doing, yes, even for you I wish to say this THANK YOU, and this A-DIEU, commending you to God in whose face I look upon you.

And may it be granted us to meet anew, joy-filled thieves, in heaven, if it pleases God, our Father, the Father of us both. Amen".
(Spiritual Testament, in Lettere dall'Algeria, Turin 1998).


H.H. Karekin I, Supreme Catholicos of All Armenians

H.H. Karekin was born on 27 August 1932 in Kesab, Syria. After completing his studies in Antelias, Lebanon and at Oxford, he was an Observer at the Second Vatican Council and in 1963 was consecrated Bishop. He was the Catholicos of Cilicia and on 4 April 1995 was elected at Etchmiadzin Catholicos of All Armenians. On 23-26 March 1999 he made his last visit to Rome, meeting His Holiness Pope John Paul II. He died, after a long illness, on 29 June 1999.
In 1991 he wrote:

"Allow me to illustrate this basic truth by the experience of my own Armenian people that I know best. Many historiographers have described Armenian history as martyrology. Yes! Suffering, persecutions, destruction, massacres, deportation or forced emigration, genocide, - and what else! - appear on almost every page of our centuries-old annals. The survival of the Armenian people seems to have been a miracle... Our history tells us that we have lost much in the past; but we have succeeded in not losing ourselves. We have committed many errors in the past; but we have not committed the error of losing faith and hope. That has been, to my understanding, the secret of our survival .
(Karekin I, In Search of Spiritual Life, Antelias, 1991).


Remember, God of our fathers in faith, all your children who have borne witness to the glory of Christ's Cross as they dwelt in the midst of more numerous and powerful peoples, even to the sacrifice of their lives: our brothers and sisters of the ancient Churches of the East - Armenians, Syrians, Copts, Ethiopians and Eritreans, Maronites - and of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. Meek and silent witnesses to your Kingdom in the nations of the Middle and Far East, they were victims of intolerance and religious intransigence. They revealed the splendour of the Beatitude of the pure in heart.
May they be welcomed into your Kingdom; may their memory never fade.
R/. Kyrie eleison.

Choral Interlude (a song from the Armenian tradition)


Remember, O Lord, all these men and women. In your infinite mercy welcome all the just who have died in your peace as courageous witnesses to the faith. You alone, Father of all, knew their virtue, their goodness of heart, their sufferings and their total fidelity to their religious beliefs.
May they be always with you, together with all the just, in everlasting memory.
And grant your infinite, merciful forgiveness to all their persecutors.
R/. Kyrie eleison.

The Lord's Prayer

The Holy Father:

With the prayer of the sons and daughters of God which Jesus has taught us and which the Spirit puts in our hearts and on our lips, let us call upon our merciful Father. Let us ask his forgiveness and let us offer forgiveness to all, so that the Father's name will be blessed on earth as it is in heaven

Pater noster...
Quia tuum est regnum...

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.


The Holy Father:

Father, you willed that the glorious death of your Son, the Victim slain for our sins, should be the source of our reconciliation and peace. Grant that your Church, in commemorating the witnesses to the faith in the twentieth century may shine before the world with the splendour of the Beatitudes.
May an your faithful ones be cleansed by the blood of the lamb and made one by your Spirit of love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.


Invitation to keep alive the memory of the witnesses to the faith

The Holy Father:

At the conclusion of this celebration I thank all of you, and in particular the Representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities gathered here to commemorate the witnesses to the faith of the twentieth century. I exhort all to keep alive the memory of our brothers and sisters and to imitate their example. From their hands may the younger generation especially receive the torch of faith in order to bear witness throughout the world to the Risen Christ, the faithful Witness,
in the one, holy Church which God has established in the world until the Lord Jesus Christ returns in glory.


Final Choral Hymn