Skip to comments.On anniversary of cathedral massacre, 42 Iraqis remembered as martyrs
Posted on 11/01/2011 6:31:27 AM PDT by NYer
.- On the first anniversary of the massacre at Baghdads Our Lady of Salvation Cathedral, the 42 worshipers killed were remembered as martyrs and their intercession was sought on behalf of Iraqs still besieged Christian community.
Three children, two priests and a pregnant woman were among those killed when five Islamic militants linked to the terrorist group al-Qaida scaled an outer wall, entered the church and opened fire on Oct. 31, 2010.
Today, in an intimate memorial Mass held at Rome's Santa Maria della Concezione Church, Catholics prayed for the living the persecuted Iraqi Christians that they never cease to give testimony to the truth, though it may cost their lives.
Despite the sadness of the anniversary, the tone was hopeful.
During his homily, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, the Vatican official in charge of Eastern Catholic Churches, spoke of the sacrifice of the deceased. Our brothers by a mysterious way passed us in the chase for the award and the goal of our path, Christ himself, he said.
The Mass was celebrated in the Syro-Catholic rite, but Iraqi Chaldean as well as Egyptian and Israeli priests came to show support.
Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, patriarch emeritus of the Syro-Catholic Church, and Archbishop Mikael Al-Jamil, the Syro-Catholic procurator in Rome, led the celebration.
Later, worshipers remembered the horrible events and spoke of their hope for an end to the persecution of Christians in Iraq.
An Iraqi priest, Father Mukhlis Shisha told CNA that his two best friends both priests were killed in the attack.
Their martyrdom was more valuable for having taken place within the church. It is more beautiful to be killed within the church than outside it, he said.
Large posters emblazoned with the images of the two priests adorned either side of the altar during the celebration.
Fr. Thair Saadallah was just beginning his homily after having read the Gospel," Fr. Shisha remembered. "When he saw the terrorists enter, he took the Gospel in hand and held it up, saying, 'In the name of the Gospel, leave them and take me. Me for them!"
The attackers quickly killed Fr. Saadallah before turning on the rest of the congregation. Witnesses say they aimed particularly to kill the young men of the parish. In addition to the dead, more than 100 people were wounded.
Fr. Wasseem Sabb'ieh was hearing confessions at the time of the attack. He managed to rush two families to safety through a secret door before turning back to face the attackers.
Before he closed the door, one of the people he helped said to him, Father, leave them and come with us and you will be saved, Fr. Shisha recounted. He answered, I won't leave them like this, and he locked the door.
Fr. Sabbieh proceeded directly to the attackers, shouting: What do you want from us?
He was killed with a bullet to the head while at the same time one of the attackers detonated a suicide bomb beside him.
Fr. Shisha is very aware of how close he himself was to death. He would have been at the Mass had he not been called back to his hometown in northern Baghdad to speak at a conference that day.
Stories of those saved are remarkable.
A little girl Fr. Saadallah's niece survived the attacks in a cupboard, where she was hidden during the more than four hours of terror. Many took refuge in the sacristy. Another 80 were saved as they packed themselves into a tiny side room that measured just 9 feet by 12 feet.
The memory of the dead is still graphically present in the cathedral. The bloody handprint of a pregnant woman who was killed has been conserved as a reminder of her martyrdom.
There are too many stories to tell, Fr. Shisha told CNA. Essentially, those who died, who lost their lives in the church gave themselves for the cause of the others.
In some ways, he said, his priest friends were prepared for the moment.
Just one day before the attack, Fr. Saadallah sent a text message to all of his friends which read simply: My life is Christ. Fr. Sabbieh was known to say out loud to God, My heart beats with your love. May my tongue speak your glory.
Their lives were taken by five radical Muslims, two from Syria and one each from Yemen, Libya and Iraq.
The Islamic State of Iraq, a reported al-Qaida associate, claimed responsibility for the massacre.
During the attack, Fr. Shisha received cell phone calls from people trapped in the cathedral. They said the attackers told them they were infidels and that they had to be killed.
The terrorists killed themselves, but others who planned the attacks were later detained. Fr. Shisha was given the chance to speak with them, and he asked them simply, "(w)hy did you do this?"
Their response, he said, was that you (Christians) are all kafara, that is, infidels, and we (Muslims) cannot coexist with you."
According to the Vatican's representative to Eastern Catholics, the attack should not be forgotten.
The memory of the past is very important for the future of the Church in the Middle East, Cardinal Sandri told CNA.
This situation in the Church is difficult being a minority and being the object of terrorist attacks and violent acts even within the very church walls. But, it has also brought with it, on the other hand, the fact that the blood of those who have died will certainly be the seed of hope and life for the future.
Todays Mass, Cardinal Sandri said, honors the memory of the victims and expresses hope for better days.
Today's reflection is to pray for them but at the same time to ask that they through their death, with their oblation intercede for the Church in Iraq, so that there might be peace in Iraq and all the Middle East and that there might be greater awareness to security, he said.
In the future, we cannot forget the blood of the martyrs which has to give us a feeling of hope, hope against everything. Christ will conquer all, he added.
A memorial Mass will be held Oct. 31 at Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad. The cause for the beatification of the martyrs is now being pursued in Rome.
The situation of Christians in Iraq - Short film (This video contains images that some viewers may find distressing)
Their response, he said, was that you (Christians) are all kafara, that is, infidels, and we (Muslims) cannot coexist with you.”
This is why I tell people here on FR that if one wants to know exactly what is coming, talk to the Chaldeans.
Prayers lifted for the repose of their souls.
Bumpoty bump. I have no doubt that one day we will have a Day for Iraqi Martyrs just like there is one for Korean Martyrs now.
Fears of unchecked Islamic persecution in Iraq
The Chaldean ladies I know tell stories of Muslim neighbors coming to their yards in Iraq and leaving flowers or candles for their statues of “Miriam”. Although they do not consider Jesus to be the Savior, He is considered to be a great prophet and His mother a woman to venerate. The Muslims and Christians lived in peace. They socialized and considered each other friends.
Then this flavor of Muslim took over. The peace was no more. Many got out if they could, coming to the US. Many more could not come. Some are killed, some disappear. The mothers of the girls my daughter went to kindergarten with, told of the families they left behind. All of them were terrified (and understand, these were the people handing out candy in the school when Saddam was overthrown).
They will tell you, it is not safe there for Christians. They will also tell you that our area, here north of Detroit (and an hour north of Dearborn) will be the first hit in a terror attack. Although the militant Islamics hate us, they detest them more because they are Middle Eastern and Christian.
I’ve never read that their own would be the first hit in a terrorist attack.
It wasn’t safe for Christians when I was there, and it’s only going to get worse.
>>Ive never read that their own would be the first hit in a terrorist attack.<<
Remember, Chaldeans are not “their own” to Militant Muslim Extremists.
And I’m just saying what I’ve been told.
"The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets,
the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers."
Infidels: freepmail me if you want on or off this list.