Msgr. Mounir Khairallah, Maronite bishop of Batroun yesterday announced that the year 2017 will be celebrated by the Maronite Church as "the year of martyrdom and martyrs."
The announcement came during a press
conference at the Catholic Information Center.
The year will extends from the February 9 next, Feast of Saint Maron
(the fifth century hermit, who gave his name to the Maronite tradition),
until March 2, 2018, feast of St. John Maron, the first Maronite
Patriarch (seventh century ).
The year will be enriched by different programs, to which the faithful
are invited to participate.
In a message for the occasion, the Patriarch
Bechara Rai said that it is very appropriate to dedicate a year to this
theme, at a time when the Church suffers persecution in many places,
and particularly in the Middle East.
Even Pope Francis often speaks of contemporary martyrs, saying that
"today they are much more numerous than in the first centuries."
In his Homily last January 30th in Casa Santa Marta,
he added: "The greatest strength of the Church today is in the little
Churches, tiny, with few people, persecuted, with their Bishops in
prison. This is our glory today, this is our glory and our strength.”