RNS Press Release Service

Basilica, cathedrals go red to honor today’s Christian martyrs

Vespers in tribute of persecuted Christians

AFTER THANKSGIVING, in tribute to today’s Christian martyrs, Catholic places of worship will be lit up in red, the color of martyrdom.

To mark the occasion, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. will hold vespers the evening of Nov. 28, 2018; a prayer service at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph’s in Brooklyn, NY will be held the evening of Nov. 25; in Metuchen, NJ, the Cathedral of St. Francis will hold special services to honor persecuted Christians the weekend of Nov. 24-25; and Epiphany Cathedral in the Diocese of Venice, FL will follow suit.

The various initiatives are part of a worldwide “Courage in Red” campaign by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the international papal charity that provides pastoral and humanitarian aid to persecuted Christian communities. Going red this year will be the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, the Sacré Coeur basilica in Paris, the Basilica of the Madonna della Salute in Venice, and Westminster Cathedral in London.

ACNUSA invited Archbishop Timothy Broglio—head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace and archbishop for the Military Services, USA—to preside at vespers at the Basilica; the papal nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, will deliver a message from the Vatican.

Vespers at the Basilica will also feature several witnesses of the persecuted Church: Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Kurdistan—whose local Church cared for more than 120,000 Iraqi Christians who had fled ISIS; Bishop Oliver Doeme of the Diocese of Maiduguri, Nigeria, Diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria, a region that suffered some of the most extreme violence and destruction perpetrated by Boko Haram; and Sister Annie Demerjian, a nun from the Community of Jesus and Mary, who for years has stood by the people under her care in Aleppo, Syria, which saw the worst fighting of that country’s civil war.

Vespers are to start at 6.30PM EST and will be broadcast live by the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

Edward Clancy, ACNUSA director of outreach, said that “hundreds of thousands of Christians suffer various forms of persecution each year—from horrific brutality in North Korea to systemic, if more subtle, oppression in countries like India.” The first annual Courage in Red Campaign is “designed to bring the plight of our suffering brothers and sisters more dramatically to the attention of faithful in the US,” Clancy explained, adding, “hopefully, greater awareness will lead to greater action.”



Albert Koopman, ACNUSA, Director of Communications
[email protected]
917 608 1989