Rome (Italy). On 24 March 2021, the 29th day of prayer and fasting is celebrated in memory of the missionary martyrs, men and women, lay and religious, who dedicated and lost their lives by witnessing to and proclaiming the Gospel.
In 1993, the Missionary Youth Movement, today Missio Giovani, instituted on the day of the assassination of Monsignor Oscar Romero (March 24, 1980), a day of prayer and fasting in memory of the martyrs. Since then, this day has become an important annual event for the whole missionary world and for the universal Church.
The slogan of the day, “Intertwined Lives“, expresses fidelity to the evangelical mandate “Here I am, send me”, lived up to the last breath of hundreds of missionaries around the world. “The missionary martyrs are weavers of fraternity: their life is intertwined with that of the peoples and cultures that they serve and encounter. The whole of humanity intertwines its existence with that of Christ, thus rediscovering itself as branches of the same vine”.
Giovanni Rocca, National Secretary of Missio Giovani, underlines: “Martyrdom in hatred of the faith is the extreme consequence of a true, human, and tangible faith. If we scrutinize the lives of the missionary martyrs, we often do not find heroic deeds, but we discover gestures dripping with hope lived in ordinary daily life with words that console the heart and with a closeness that sustains.”
The presence of the martyrs accompanies the Church’s journey, like a beacon that illumines her steps: “There will always be martyrs among us: this is the signal that we are following the path of Jesus” (Pope Francis – General Audience, 11 December 2019).
To celebrate the day, on the website of Missioitalia – pastoral body of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) which supports and promotes the missionary dimension of the Italian ecclesial community – material and resources for prayer, for further information and celebrations are available.
Modules for in-depth study and video-interviews help to get in touch with witnesses who, in the daily life of their mission, have given their lives in total availability to listening, to reciprocal sharing, to helping those in need.
Missio Foundation also promotes two webinars: on 21 March, “Intertwined Lives in Brazil” and on 24 March, “Intertwined Lives in Ethiopia”, on poverty, inequalities and the role of missionaries.