We may be inclined to believe that the age of martyrdom is an age of the past. When we think of Christian martyrs, we are likely to conjure images of the persecutions which took place in the first and second centuries. During the reign of the Roman emperor Decius, for example, an 18-month, empire-wide campaign led to the slaughter of some 3,000 to 3,500 Christians in AD 250 (as estimated by the English ecclesiastical historian WHC Frend).

And yet the truth is perhaps more difficult to bear, for the 20th century has produced more Christian martyrs than any other century in the history of our great faith.

How should we respond? What should we do in the face of such evil? We must answer as the saints have always answered. We must counter violence and terror with love and forgiveness. It is our way.

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