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Rome's Colosseum turns red to remember persecuted Christians

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The Colosseum, Rome's most famous landmark, was on Saturday lit up in red to mark solidarity with people persecuted in foreign countries, particularly Pakistan, for their faith.

The event at 6 p.m. (local time) was the initiative of Aid to the Church in Need, the Pontifical Foundation that supports suffering Christians in over 140 countries around the world, the Catholic Herald reported.

The Maronite Cathedral of St Elijah in Syria's Aleppo and St Paul's church in the Iraqi city of Mosul were also illuminated in red to symbolise the blood of Christian martyrs in the war-torn countries.

The ceremony included testimonies of two families targeted for their Christian faith -- the husband and youngest daughter of Asia Bibi from Pakistan, who received a death sentence in 2010, and Nigerian Rebecca Bitrus, who spent two years as a hostage to the extremist group Boko Haram.

Asia Bibi's daughter Eisham Ashiq said her family believed she would be released from jail soon, though they will have to leave Pakistan immediately, as her safety cannot be guaranteed.

The family has appealed to Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain for a pardon and met Pope Francis on Saturday to ask him to pray for her freedom.

Rebecca Bitrus, however, said that despite her ordeal at the hands of the extremist group, she never lost her trust in God.

Not even when her one-year-old son was killed or when she was tortured and raped, resulting in the birth of another child.

When she finally managed to escape, many people urged her to get rid of the child, but with the help of local Church leaders, she has learned to accept and love the son of her captors.

2000 years ago, Christians were tortured and killed in the Colosseum for refusing to renounce their faith.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mon, February 26 2018. 03:00 IST
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