· Vatican City ·

The Holy Father’s prayer intention for the month of March

For the martyrs of our day, witnesses to Christ

 For the martyrs of our day, witnesses to Christ  ING-009
01 March 2024

“Let us pray that those who risk their lives for the Gospel in various parts of the world might imbue the Church with their courage and missionary drive”. This is the Pope’s invitation to the faithful for the month of March, dedicated to praying for the martyrs of our day, witnesses to Christ.

The video begins with the sound of a bell chiming though it is barely still attached to its tower above a desecrated Church. The Pope then shares a true story which he describes as “a reflection of the Church today”, the story “of a little-known witness of faith”, of which he was told while visiting a refugee camp in Lesvos. At that time, a man had approached him and said, “Father I am a Muslim, my wife was Christian. Terrorists came to our place, looked at us and asked what our religion was. They approached my wife with a crucifix and told her to throw it on the ground. She didn’t do it and they slit her throat right in front of me”.

The Holy Father highlights that the man did not hold any grudge against the perpetrators but rather focused on his wife’s example of love for Christ which had led her to “be faithful to the point of death”.

Images of Christian communities in danger give way to examples of courage recalling the blood shed by Christians for their faith, like that of 20-year old Akash Bashir, the first Pakistani Servant of God, who died in 2015 in the act of stopping a terrorist attack that was targetting a Church filled with faithful in Lahore. There will always be martyrs among us, the Holy Father says, adding that it “is a good sign that we’re on the right path”. The courage and witness of martyrs is “a blessing for everyone”.

The video concludes with images of Christian tombs, destroyed Churches, and communities at prayer.

This month’s video was produced in collaboration with the Pontifical Foundation, Aid to the Church in Need, whose mission is to help the faithful wherever they are being persecuted. The Foundation’s Executive President Regina Lynch said this month’s intention is “very important to encourage prayer for the victims of persecution as well as advocacy for those who suffer discrimination for their faith”.

Speaking about the theme chosen by Pope Francis for March, Father Frédéric Fornos s.j. , International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, pointed out that we are all called to bear witness to Christ with our entire life. Recalling the words of Saint Francis of Assisi, “Always proclaim the Gospel. If necessary, use words”, he added, a martyr “incarnates the Gospel putting their own life at risk without resorting to violence”. Indeed the prayer intention challenges us to consider how we can “bear witness to Christ right where we are”.

Available online at www.thepopevideo.org and translated into more than 23 languages, the video for the prayer intention for March was distributed by La Machi Agency, in collaboration with the Dicastery for Communication.