Gift from Pope John Paul II for Persecuted WYD11 Pilgrims

ACN staff meet pilgrims of Egypt in Spain August 19, 2011

Rosaries and medals blessed by Pope John Paul II were given to young Catholics from persecuted countries at World Youth Day.

Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), which held an exhibition about Christian persecution as part of World Youth Day’s cultural program in Madrid, gave the blessed objects to visitors to the exhibition from countries where Christians experience violence because of their religion.

The rosaries, miraculous medals, and medallions of the Sacred and Immaculate hearts given to the pilgrims were blessed by Pope John Paul II during an audience on August 20th, 1986.

Among the first young people to receive the rosaries and medals were pilgrims from Egypt.

Edward Clancy, ACN-USA’s Director of Evangelization and Outreach presented the first pouch of blessed items to a young man from Egypt.

Mr. Clancy said, “Initially, he was very surprised to be given the gift and seemed to be deeply moved by the gesture.”

“He understood that the rosary and other devotional objects crossed cultural boundaries and that we were saying that, although we may be in different parts of the world, we are still praying for you and thinking of you.”

A priest from Alexandria in Egypt, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of possible attack, spoke out about the terrible situation affecting Christians in the country.

Speaking about his group’s experience of World Youth Day, he said, “For the young people it is like paradise here, because we live with trouble every day in Egypt.”

Referring to the problems young Christians experience, particularly women who can be targeted by kidnappers, he said: “The young people are scared and nervous because of the religious situation [in Egypt].”

“They never know what will happen, especially with the girls being abducted, that is why they feel happy here, that is why they are in paradise.” 

The priest, who took his group to the ACN exhibit, added that living in a country where they were a small minority they were strengthened in their faith by seeing they were part of the universal church, although the young people were physically very tired as they had not been getting much sleep at World Youth Day.

“But spiritually they are very happy. They see so many Christians from all over the world, so they feel very happy.”

More than 800 young pilgrims from Egypt were in Madrid for World Youth Day.

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org
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