Twelve Egyptian Christians were killed in a horrific massacre as they listened to a sermon in Mari Guirguis Church in the Abu Qurqas area of al-Minya province, Egypt, on 12 February 1997. The gunmen responsible, allegedly members of an extremist group, stormed the church firing bullets into the helpless congregation.

A joint funeral was held the following day for all the victims, which was opposed by the Egyptian security forces, who wanted the families to have separate funerals. One father refused to accept condolences saying, “My son died as a martyr. No condolences are needed for martyrdom.”

We offer you simple praise, Lord Jesus, for, unworthy as we are,

You have defended us from the errors of the pagans and in your mercy,

You have allowed us to come to this time of suffering for the honour of your name.

As you have permitted us to share in the glory of your saints,

We offer you glory and praise, and we commend to your keeping our lives and our souls.

Lucian of Antioch (martyred 312)

They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. John 15:21

Read also: Raymond Lull (c. 1315) Martyred for Muslims

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.