Mike Aquilina

Martyrs of Mosul

Wednesday June 06th 2007, 8:47 pm

By now I’m sure you’ve read the story of Father Ragheed Ganni, the Chaldean Catholic priest who was brutally murdered last Sunday, together with three subdeacons, as they left Mass. Their martyrdom took place in Mosul, Iraq, the city that was home to Aphrahat the Sage (fourth century) and other Church Fathers.

Father Ragheed, just thirty-five years old, was a graduate of the Angelicum in Rome, and he was conversant in the language of the Fathers. He adapted as his own the confession of the fourth-century martyrs of Abitina: “Without Sunday, without the Eucharist the Christians in Iraq cannot survive.” And he applied the ancient lesson in a distinctively contemporary way: “The Eucharist gives back to us the life that the terrorists seek to take away.”

The story has haunted me all week, with the image of these martyrs’ bodies left for hours in the street as a trophy. If you haven’t read the account, please do. May these good men rest in peace. May they intercede for us who remain.

This is not a time for despair or vengeance, but rather thanksgiving — for the life and witness of these men. The blood of the martyrs is seed.

And we should redouble our prayers for the Christians of Iraq.