As the persecution of Christians throughout the world steadily increases - especially in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Nigeria - the Italian Episcopal Conference has called upon the dioceses and parishes of Italy to keep vigil on Saturday, May 23, for our brothers and sisters suffering so greatly for the faith.
At the conclusion of his general audience yesterday, the Holy Father Pope Francis encouraged this endeavor, noting that these men and women are "exiled or killed because of the sole fact of being Christians" and said of them, "they are martyrs."
He went on to express his hope for this particular time of prayer as the Church keeps the great Vigil of Pentecost:
I hope that this time of prayer will make awareness grow that religious freedom is an inalienable human right, increase sensibility over the drama of persecuted Christians in our time and that an end be put to this unacceptable crime.
I hope that Catholics throughout the world, and not just here in Italy, will take up the invitation of the Italian Bishops.
Several months ago I posted a few prayers for persecuted Christians that may be of use as we keep this vigil imploring the Lord to strengthen and save our brethren and begging, on their behalf, the grace of final perseverance.