Samalut (Agenzia Fides) - On the evening of Monday, May 14 church bells and monasteries rang throughout Egypt to celebrate the return to Egypt of the mortal remains of the 21 Coptic Christians, "martyrs of the faith", beheaded in Libya in 2015 by cutthroats affiliated to the so-called Islamic State (Daesh). After three years and three months since that barbaric massacre, the mortal remains of the victims were transported by plane from the Libyan city of Misrata to Cairo, where, at the moment of disembarkation, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II was also present to pay homage to them, together with Mrs Nabila Makram, Egyptian Minister for Immigration. Anba Makarios, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Minya, in some statements reported by the Egyptian media said that the Coptic Church welcomes with joy the return to Egypt of her children martyred in Libya, thanking the Lord for their testimony of faith.
The bodies of the "martyrs of Libya" will be taken to the village of al Our, near the town of Samalut, in the province of Minya, where 13 of the 21 martyrs were from, and laid down in the new church-sanctuary purposely built to cherish their memory (see Fides 9/2/2018), solemnly inaugurated last February 15th.
The 21 Egyptian Copts had been kidnapped in Libya in early January 2015. The video of their decapitation was shown on jihadist sites on February 15th. Just a week after their brutal act, Orthodox Catholic Patriarch Tawadros II decided to register the 21 martyrs in the Synaxarium, the book of martyrs of the Coptic Church, establishing that their memory was to be celebrated on February 15 .
The bodies had been identified at the end of last September in a mass grave on the Libyan coast near the town of Sirte, with their hands tied behind their back, wearing the same orange-colored tracksuits they wore in the macabre video filmed by the executioners at the time of their decapitation. Even the heads of the victims were found next to their bodies.
The repatriation of the mortal remains of the martyrs of Egypt, repeatedly announced by the Egyptian media, took longer than expected. Meanwhile, DNA tests allowed to identify the individual bodies of the 21 martyrs.
"The video depicting their execution – said after the massacre Anba Antonios Aziz Mina, Catholic Emeritus Bishop of Guizeh – had the intention of spreading terror. During their barbaric execution, the victims repeated 'Lord Jesus Christ'. The name of Jesus was the last word on their lips. As in the passion of the first martyrs, they put their trust in Him who would soon receive them. And so they celebrated their victory, the victory that no executioner can take away from them". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 15/5/2018)