In preparation for Easter, the community of Sant’Egidio held prayers at the Basilica of Santa Maria del Tiber in memory of those who lost their lives for their faith in the 20th and 21st centuries. The prayer was presided over by Cardinal Yu Heung-sik, who mentioned the importance of learning from the example of the martyrs and their role in Korean history.
(Vatican News Network)In preparation for Easter, the group of Sant’Egidio held an ecumenical prayer vigil in memory of contemporary martyrs at the Basilica of Santa Maria del Tiber in Rome. The event was presided over by Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-sik, Prefect of the Congregation for the Holy See. “The martyrs, said Cardinal Yu, are candles lit, one next to the other, and their flames increase, like the flames of the resurrection of the holy night. In this time wounded by war, “may their Witnesses strengthen our faith and ignite the flame of charity in our hearts, helping us embrace hope that overcomes evil and death.”
“Compared to the first century, there have been more large-scale martyrdoms in the 20th and 21st centuries,” said Cardinal Yu Heung-sik. But the martyrs also give us the hope of spreading the Gospel “from one generation to another and up to us”. They are laymen and shepherds, women and men, defenseless children and old people of different Christian communities, and they are condemned only because they bear the name and humanity of the Lord Jesus.
Cardinal Yoo then referred to his country, South Korea, as “a land soaked in the blood of the martyrs”. Between 10,000 and 30,000 innocent people lost their lives, “the history and vitality of the Korean Church, very lively despite being a minority in the crowd”. Among them were St. Andrea Kim Taegon, the first priest in Korea, and Bishop Paolo Chong Hasang, who were killed in the mid-19th century. Pope St. John Paul II married them on May 6, 1984. 103 martyrs canonized as saints. In 2014, Pope Francis beatified 124 martyrs. “Persecution did not extinguish the fire of faith,” the cardinal stressed, because “when the Gospel arrived on the peninsula, people began to change. They saw each other differently, as brothers. So, this is a decisive moment in the history of the peninsula. The turning point in the 1980s brought equality and justice. It also relied on the testimony of the martyrs who put the words of Jesus into practice”.
Card Yoo also prayed for the martyrs in Ukraine and around the world. A few days ago, the Sant’Egidio community inaugurated the monument to the martyrs of the 20th and 21st centuries in the Church of San Bartholomew on the Tiber Island in Rome. The community thanks Cardinal Yu Heung-sik “for keeping the memory alive here, in Rome, in many places, together with the Sisters, brothers and sisters of various Christian communities”.
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