Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) illuminated the historic Colosseum in Rome, Italy with red lights to honor the sacrifice of modern-day martyrs who offered their lives for their faith. ACN is the same organization that leads the celebration of Red Wednesday every November to open the eyes of the world to the violations of religious freedom, which are all too often overlooked by the world media and the international community. However, last Saturday’s lighting of the famous Italian monument is doubly significant given that the landmark is a sacred site due to the many Christian martyrs who were killed during the Roman persecution.
“Events like the illumination of the Colosseum can open people’s hearts and minds, awaken their interest in the subject of religious freedom and encourage them to show greater solidarity with those who suffer in this way,” said Jan Figel, the EU Special Envoy for the promotion of religious freedom. Other guests of the event include Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, and Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament.
Aside from the lighting ceremony, the faces of several Christian victims of persecution were projected onto the facade of the Colosseum. Among the faces featured was that of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Pakistani Minorities Minister assassinated on 2 March 2011. His brother, Paul Bhatti, praised the initiative of ACN.
“We cannot remain silent in the face of these brave people who have sacrificed their lives for their faith in Christ and their fellow men. My brother gave his life, not only for the rights of Christians but those of all the minorities, including the Muslims,” said Paul Bhatti, recalling the work of the Pakistani minister, who was assassinated for his efforts to modify the so-called blasphemy laws. “It is a duty,” he added, “to pay homage to these martyrs by means of events such as this one and to honor their memory.”