One of the world’s most notorious sites of Christian persecution – the Colosseum in Rome – will be bathed in red light tomorrow.
The monument, built in the first century AD, is among buildings across Europe and the Middle East used to highlight the ongoing horrors for persecuted Christians.
According to a recent report by Christian charity Open Doors, 215 million Christians “experience high, very high or extreme persecution for following Jesus”.
Saturday’s event is organised by Roman Catholic group Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and has the backing of the President of the European Parliament and the EU’s Special Envoy on religious freedom.
Envoy Ján Figel said the event could awaken people’s interest in persecution and “encourage them to show greater solidarity with those who suffer”. He added that silence and indifference “can only help those who commit these crimes”.
Alongside the Colosseum – where some Christians were executed for refusing to worship Roman gods – sites in Iraq, Syria and Portugal will also be illuminated.
…greater solidarity with those who suffer
In the UK, ACN runs the Red Wednesday event each November, previously lighting up the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye.
In this year’s Open Doors report, the overall level of persecution was found to have risen for the fifth year in a row.
Lisa Pearce, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said: “Christians in Egypt face a barrage of discrimination and intimidation yet they refuse to give up their faith.”
Open Doors said North Korea is the most dangerous place globally to be a Christian.
“Believers are forced to worship in secret – if they are discovered they are taken to labour camps. An estimated 70,000 Christians are believed to be in these camps.”