Twenty-One Coptic Martyrs of Lybia
|Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonian) perspective, which may differ from an Eastern Orthodox (Chalcedonian) understanding.|
A few days later, on 15 February 2015, a five-minute video was published, showing the beheading of the 21 captives on a beach along the southern Mediterranean coast. A caption in the video called the captives the "People of the Cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church". In the video, the leader was dressed in camouflage, while the other terrorists were dressed in black. The victims were all dressed in orange jumpsuits, as in many previous ISIL videos. The Coptic Church of Egypt, Egyptian government, as well as the Libyan parliament, confirmed the deaths. Later, when one of the perpetrators of the operation was arrested, he admitted in the investigation that the slaughter had taken place at the beach opposite Al Mahary Hotel in Sirte.
Roman Catholic Pope Francis telephoned Coptic Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences. At an ecumenical meeting with the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Pope Francis stated "They only said Jesus help me. The blood of our Christian brothers is testimony that cries out. Be they Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it doesn't matter: They are Christian!".
Canonization by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
On 21 February 2015, a week after their death, the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, canonized the 21 Coptic Martyrs as Saints; their feast day would be celebrated on 15 February of the Gregorian calendar. The commemoration falls on the same day as the feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, which is the 8th Amshir of the Coptic calendar (Coptic Synaxarion: 8 Amshir).
Following the beheadings, the Coptic Orthodox church released the names of the martyrs, but there were only 20 names. In the video, one victim was of black African descent, in contrast to the others, who were ethnic Copts. It was later learned that this 21st martyr was Matthew Ayariga and that he was from Ghana.
The Cathedral of the New Martyrs
On 15 May 2018, the remains of the 20 Egyptians (the body of the Ghananian, Matthew Ayariga, was not on the plane), were returned to a new Coptic Orthodox cathedral that was specially built for them and named after them (Church of Martyrs of the Faith and Homeland) in 'Martyrs village' (formerly 'Al Aour or Al Awar' village), Minya, Egypt. The remains were laid in a special shrine that people can visit. Bells of churches and monasteries all over Egypt were ringing when the remains arrived on board a plane coming from Libya to Cairo International Airport, celebrating the return of their remains to their homeland. They were received at the airport by Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria accompanied by a large number of priest as well as government officials. The Holy Liturgy in the new cathedral was presided over by the Bishop of Samalout Anba Paphnutius. Anba Paphnutius requested that the body of Matthew Ayariga be brought to Egypt "to be joined with his Coptic brothers in their final resting place". In 2019, the Libyan government agreed to transfer the body of Matthew Ayariga to Egypt.
Formal Recognition by the Roman Catholic Church
In May 2023, during a visit of Coptic Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria to the Vatican, Pope Francis added the 21 Coptic Orthodox martyrs to Catholic list of saints.
Names of the Twenty-One Martyrs
|Bishoy Adel Khalaf||Samuel Alhoam Wilson||Hany Abdel-Masih Salib|
|Melad Mackeen Zaki||Abanoub Ayad Attia||Ezzat Bushra Nassif|
|Yousef Shokry Younan||Kirillos Shukry Fawzy||Majed Suleiman Shehata|
|Samuel Stephanos Kamel||Malak Ibrahim Sinout||Bishoy Stephanos Kamel|
|Mena Fayez Aziz||Girgis Melad Sinout||Tawadros Youssef Tawadros|
|Essam Badr Samir||Luke Ngati||Jaber Mounir Adly|
|Malak Faraj Abram||Sameh Salah Farouk||Matthew Ayariga|
- The Coptic Orthodox Synaxarion
- The 21: A Journey into the Land of Coptic Martyrs https://www.amazon.com/21-Journey-into-Coptic-Martyrs/dp/0874868394
- Pope Francis adds 21 Coptic Orthodox martyrs to Catholic list of saints https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2023-05/pope-francis-tawadros-ii-coptic-orthodox-martyrs-egypt.html