Tyre was an ancient Phoenician city which still survives in modern day Lebanon. It is where many of the earliest Christians were converted and lived. It is recorded that 500 Christians in Tyre were tortured and persecuted under Emperor Diocletian in the year 304 AD. They were tortured in various ways and underwent numerous punishments. These Christians were put to death for their beliefs and for simply being Christian. By dying for their faith they gained the holy crown of martyrdom, and are commemorated on this day in the Maronite calendar.
Many early Christians and early Maronites were persecuted for their faith. As you can see from the icon, the relics of the martyrs and their bones were often buried in the altars of Churches. In the same way that the Lamb is sacrificed on the altar for us at each Eucharistic celebration, the Martyrs were placed in the altars to commemorate that they were sacrificed for their faith.
Let us remember all those who are being persecuted and martyred for their faith, including those of other faiths around the world. May the Lord give them comfort, as they seek to find Him amongst ruins. Let us also remember how privileged we are to be able to practice our religion freely, attend mass, and be open about our faith to others. May we not take that opportunity for granted.
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