“Martyrdom is not just a phenomenon of past but continues, and is even increasing, in today’s world. Eighty per cent of all acts of religious persecution around the world today are being committed against Christians” – Archbishop Eamon Martin
On Wednesday night last, large crowds gathered in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, to celebrate ‘Red Wednesday’. The cathedral was ablaze of red with people gathered for a special prayer service to remember Christian martyrs and those who have died for their faith. During the liturgy Archbishop Eamon delivered a homily as part of a Liturgy of Witness for Red Wednesday, the highpoint of this special ‘Week of Witness’. The Week of Witness invites Christians across Ireland to stand in solidarity with, and bear witness to, the heroic example of our persecuted brothers and sisters in faith across the world.
During the celebration, those present remembered all who suffered and died for their Christian faith over the years. Archbishop Eamon spoke with two people who give great witness to their faith each day of their lives:
Ms Colleen Gribben, a maths teacher in Saint Catherine’s College, Armagh, and Head Camp Coordinator of the Armagh City Micheala Foundation Summer Camp. Colleen is a person of deep faith and she spoke of how she works to promote faith not only through her involvement with the Micheala Camp, but also in her daily work in school.
Mr Gerard Devine is a teacher of Religious Studies in Saint Patrick’s Grammar School, Armagh, having taught previously in Saint Edmund’s College, London. Gerard spoke of how he gives witness to his faith on a daily basis. He is a person who gives great witness not only in his teaching but through his involvement with Armagh Diocesan Youth Council, School Aid Romania and with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. Gerard helped to lead a number of youth pilgrimages over the last few years.
After the liturgy, Archbishop Eamon launched a new book on the life and martyrdom of Saint Oliver Plunkett Not Force Nor Might – The Gift of the Martyr.
Yesterday morning Archbishop Eamon celebrated 10.00am Mass in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and, during the Mass, special prayers were offered for all who give witness to their faith in the world today. After Mass, Archbishop Eamon joined with all the young people to be confirmed in the Cathedral Parish this year, in leading a ‘Walk of Witness’ within the Cathedral. As part of the walk, prayers were offered that all of us may respond to the call to be more faithful in giving witness to the faith in our homes and in our communities.