Minya, Egypt, Jul 18, 2016 / 23:08 pm
For Christians in Egypt, the possibility of martyrdom is not a remote one.
"It is something they concretely feel, it is part of their Christian life," Father Paolo Asolan, an Italian priest who recently visited Egypt, told CNA. "And for a mother and a father, the fact that one of their sons can become a martyr is always a great gift."
The Islamic State's beheading of 20 Coptic Christians and another man shocked the world in February 2015 when video of the murders on a Mediterranean beach became public. The other man was a non-Christian who reportedly professed belief in the Christian God before his death.
During a recent trip to Egypt, Fr. Asolan met the family of one of the Coptic Christians. He visited the village of al-Our in the north-central Egyptian province of Minya. From this province came 13 of the 21 people beheaded.
Al-Our is a small farming community of some 6,000 Muslims and Christians, located about 90 miles from Cairo.
There the priest met the family of Milad Makeen Zaky, who was the first martyr seen praying in the video.
"I was struck by the fact that, before he died, he was praying the name of Jesus," Fr. Asolan said. "He died speaking the name of Jesus, and that was the very last act of a life that witnessed Jesus in every moment."
This faithfulness to Christ, Fr. Asolan added, is proved by many details in his life.