RED floodlights have been switched on at St Stephen’s Cathedral to symbolically wash the stone facade in the blood of persecuted Christians as the Church remembers and prays for them in November.
One in nine Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith in Jesus, according to the 2020 Open Doors World Watch List.
In the past year, more than 260 million Christians experienced high levels of persecution and 2983 Christians were killed for their faith.
Open Doors reported 9488 churches and other Christian worship buildings had been attacked and another 3711 believers were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.
On the feast of St Stephen the first martyr, Pope Francis said there were more martyrs now than ever before.
“The age of martyrs is not yet over, even today we can say, in truth, that the Church has more martyrs now than during the first centuries,” Pope Francis said.
“The Church has many men and women who are maligned through calumny, who are persecuted, who are killed in hatred of Jesus, in hatred of the faith: some are killed because they teach the catechism, others are killed because they wear the cross …
“Today, in many countries, they are maligned, they are persecuted … they are our brothers and sisters who are suffering today, in this age of the martyrs.”
While the whole of November was for prayer for persecuted Christians, Red Wednesday on November 25 was the special day set aside for it as part of an initiative by Aid to the Church in Need.
All Masses on Red Wednesday will commemorate persecuted Christians.
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