september 2007 letter
Our Coptic year 1723 is coming to an end in September, and a new year 1724 A.M. will start. Historically, our Coptic calendar has started with out fathers the martyrs in 284 A.D., which marks the beginning of the reign of the emperor Diocletian. During this emperor’s reign the Copts suffered tremendously, more than any other time.
The Roman persecution to Christianity was over officially in 313 A.D. when the Edict of Milan (which meant freedom of worship for Christians) was issued by the emperor Constantine. However, martyrdom in the Coptic Church was not over but still continues nowadays. Many Egyptian martyrs are remembered over the different historic eras.
1) Martyrs during the Roman Empire (martyrs for Christian faith): St. Mina, St. Demiana, martyrs of Akhmeem & Fayoum.
2) Martyrs during the Byzantine era (martyrs of the Orthodox faith): St. Makarios bishop of Edkou, who is one of the 3 saints Abba Makarii mentioned in the commemoration of saints during holy liturgy.
3) Martyrs of the Islamic era: St. George the Mezahem.
4) Martyrs during the Crusades: St. Salib the New.
5) This age martyrs (renaissance by Mohamed Ali): St. Sedhom Bishay.
6) Recent martyrs: martyrs of Kosh-h & Abou Korkaas.
Martyrdom is a main characteristic in our church; it involved all sectors of the people: priesthood and congregation. No age was free of heroic spirituality and sacrifice of everything up to their lives for Christ. Martyrdom is a proof of faithfulness of the church and the people to our Lord. As the church lives faithfulness it will be exposed to persecution “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2Ti 3: 12).
As for the church news, an icon artist in Egypt has agreed to draw several icons for the church. These icons will mainly be for the seasonal feasts, as a way of their demonstration.
Please remember the church, the priest, the servants and their services always in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary and the blessing of holy martyrs be with us always, Amen.
Fr. Youssef Halim
Belleville, September 1, 2007