Church leaders to honor modern martyrs

Christian church leaders are convening an unprecedented ecumenical service Saturday in remembrance of modern-day Christian martyrs.

The service, which will be held at Mission Church on Tremont Street at 2 p.m., is in “remembrance and solidarity around the Christians who have fallen before recent religious persecution,” Archdiocese of Boston spokesman Terrence Donilon said today in a statement.

“The service is entirely unique,” said Vito Nicastro, the associate director of the archdiocese’s Office for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. “The second half of the service is composed of the names of martyrs all over the world, and for every name a person lights a candle for that martyr.”


The archdiocese said it had partnered with the Community of Sant’Egidio, a movement of lay people dedicated to evangelization and charity, in the event.

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“Boston is definitely taking this event to an extraordinary level, both in the diversity of the churches represented and in the depth of the relationships being built,” Nicastro said.

A broad range of Christian church leaders is expected to be represented, including representatives of Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Protestant, evangelical and black churches, the archdiocese said.

“It’s a call of faith, unity, solidarity, and outreach,” Nicastro said. “The martyrs belong to all of us, because they belong entirely to God.”

Some of Saturday’s participants will come from Egypt, where they endured 70 church burnings in a single day last year; others will come from Syria and Iraq, Nicastro said.


“More Christians were martyred in the twentieth century than in all the other nineteen centuries combined,” Donilon said. “[The service] recognizes that many of our brothers and sisters around the world live not just under persecution for their Christian faith, but give their lives for it.”

The service will be given by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, and several local religious leaders will be named as honored clergy, including Reverend Jeffrey Brown of the Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury, Reverend Laura Everett of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and Reverend Hegoumen Moses of the Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Church.

A reception will be held at the church after the service, Nicastro said.

Catalina Gaitan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @catalina_gaitan.