London, England, Sep 8, 2023 / 03:00 am
On the eve of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a leading advocate for the persecuted Church said that awareness of religious persecution in the Western world is growing, thanks to the emergence of four new shrines dedicated to persecuted Christians in the last five years.
In an email interview with CNA on Sept. 7, Father Benedict Kiely, who founded Nasarean.org and is the force behind the shrines that all depict Mary, Mother of Persecuted Christians, said the fruits of the shrines are “manifold.”
“To have four shrines now, in three different countries [with] a focus on prayer for the persecuted in countries like Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, people are deeply moved that the shrines exist and people are praying for them,” he said. “It is educating people in the West that persecution exists and prayer is essential.”
The world’s first shrine to persecuted Christians was dedicated at St. Michael’s Church in New York City in 2018. It features an icon depicting the Blessed Mother dressed as a traditional Iraqi bride — Our Lady of Aradin (Eden) — which was created by an Iraqi Christian named Mouthana Butres, an iconographer and refugee who fled the Islamic State.