Shrines Honoring Mary, Mother of Persecuted Christians: A Global Tribute
London’s Ordinariate Church Shrine
One year ago, a significant event took place in London as a shrine dedicated to Mary, Mother of Persecuted Christians, was established at the Ordinariate Church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St. Gregory. This shrine featured an icon of the Blessed Mother adorned with the poignant inscription “Mother of the Persecuted” in Aramaic, a symbol of solidarity and support.
Clinton’s St. John Shrine
In October 2022, another shrine was unveiled in Clinton, Massachusetts, at St. John the Guardian of Our Lady. This shrine paid homage to Mary, the Mother of Persecuted Christians, and showcased a unique icon. Deacon Ebrahim Lallo, a Syriac Catholic who had experienced the horrors of displacement due to ISIS in 2014, painted this icon, infusing it with deep personal significance and resilience.
Sweden’s Holy Martyrs Syriac Catholic Church Shrine
On July 22 of this year, the global tribute to Mary, Mother of Persecuted Christians, expanded to Sweden. Christians in Sweden gathered at the Holy Martyrs Syriac Catholic Church in Kista, Northern Stockholm, to dedicate the world’s fourth shrine in her honor. This shrine took the form of an icon, once again crafted by Sister Souraya, the Syrian nun of the Basilian order, known for her artistic talents. The devotion to Mary as a symbol of solace and strength in the face of persecution transcends borders and cultures, uniting believers in their shared faith and compassion
Dedication of a Shrine in Sweden: A Meaningful Occasion
Cardinal Anders Arborelius and Father Benedict Kiely
Cardinal Anders Arborelius, together with Father Benedict Kiely and the parish priest of the Holy Martyrs Syriac Catholic Church in Kista, Northern Stockholm, Sweden, participated in a significant event on July 22, 2023. This event marked the dedication of a shrine in honor of Mary, Mother of Persecuted Christians.
Reasons Behind the Swedish Shrine
Father Kiely provided insights into the reasons behind the establishment of this shrine in Sweden. The choice of Sweden was influenced by its significant diaspora of Middle East Christians, including those from Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. Given this diverse community, Sweden emerged as a fitting location for such a shrine. Additionally, the dedication of the shrine was inspired by the work of Catholic composer Paul Jernberg, a Swedish American who composed the first Mass for Persecuted Christians. This composition was performed at another shrine blessing in Clinton, Massachusetts. Cardinal Anders Arborelius, a friend of Paul Jernberg, readily agreed to bless the fourth shrine in Sweden. The ceremony took place at the Syriac Catholic Church in Stockholm and has since become a focal point for continuous prayer.
Prospects for Future Shrines
When asked about the possibility of dedicating more shrines of a similar nature in the near future, Father Kiely expressed optimism. He mentioned that there are currently one or two potential locations under consideration. However, he emphasized the importance of receiving requests and blessings from bishops, highlighting the essential role of episcopal approval in the establishment of such shrines.