POPE FRANCIS TO MEET VICTIMS OF PERSECUTION
Pope Francis on Saturday, February 24, will receive in a private audience relatives of Asia Bibi – Ashiq Masih and Eisham Ashiq, respectively her husband and daughter – and Mrs. Rebecca Bitrus, a victim of Boko Haram. They will be accompanied by Alessandro Monteduro, the direct of ACN, Aid to the Church in Need.
The evening of February 24 at 6 pm, the Colosseum will be spotlighted in red, to represent the blood of Christians who have been wounded or lost their lives due to religious persecution. Simultaneously, in Syria and Iraq, prominent churches will be illuminated with red lights. In Aleppo, the St. Elijah Maronite Cathedral will be lighted, and in Mosul, the Church of St. Paul, where this past December 24, the first Mass was celebrated after the city’s liberation from ISIS.
That event is sponsored is ACN, as it has done in other cities in previous years. Alessandro Monteduro, director of ACN, told journalists February 7 that the “illumination [of the Colosseum] will have two symbolic figures: Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian condemned to death for blasphemy and whose umpteenth judgment is expected to revoke the sentence; and Rebecca, a girl kidnapped by Boko Haram along with her two children when she was pregnant with a third. One of the children was killed, she lost the baby she was carrying, and then became pregnant after one of the many brutalities she was subjected to by her captors.”