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ReligionChristianityFor Christians in times of epidemic

For Christians in times of epidemic

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Persecuted christians - Conference at the European Parliament about the persecution of Christians in Sub-Saharan Africa (Credit: MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen)

Break the silence on persecuted Christians

MEP Bert-Jan Ruissen held a conference and exhibition at the European Parliament to denounce the silence surrounding the suffering of persecuted Christians worldwide. The EU must take stronger action against violations of freedom of religion, especially in Africa where lives are lost due to this silence.

From the letter of Saint Dionysius († 264), Bishop of Alexandria, about the times of persecution and the epidemic of the so-called Cyprian Plague. The disease, which struck the Roman Empire in the 3rd century, remains in history with the name of St. Cyprian of Carthage, who described its symptoms. About five thousand people died daily in Rome from this contagious disease. St. Dionysius wrote that there were no residents left in Alexandria over forty years of age. In this harsh time, the Bishop of Alexandria described the behavior of Christians and their attitude towards death: not frivolously and self-confidently, but imitating Christ – as the bitter cup that they drink out of love for their suffering neighbors.

“… After a short intermission, this disease fell upon us; to them (the Gentiles) it was the most dreadful of all dreadful things, the cruelest of all calamities, and, as their own writer says, an extraordinary event which no one could have expected. For us it was not like that; as in other cases, the Lord tried and hardened us. The disease did not surround us, but it struck the Gentiles more.

Many of our brothers, out of abundant charity and moved by brotherly love, without pitying themselves, supported each other, without fear, visited the sick, served them unfailingly, cared for them for Christ’s sake, joyfully died with them; they filled themselves with the suffering of others, became infected by their neighbors and readily took upon themselves their sufferings. Many, caring for the sick and supporting others, died themselves, accepting death for them…

This is how the best of our brothers passed away: priests, deacons, laymen. They showered them with praise, because such a death, possible only because of great piety and strong faith, was considered equal to martyrdom.

Source: Eusebius of Caesarea, “Church History”, vol. 7

Photo by Levi Meir Clancy on Unsplash

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