This week we look at the 800th anniversary of the Mercedarians, the popularity of the feast of the Epiphany in Poland, and Christian persecution in Eritrea.
800th anniversary of the Mercedarians
On January 17th, 2018, the ‘Holy See Press Office’ published a message sent by Pope Francis to the Master General of the ‘Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy’ – or Mercedarians. The order is celebrating its 800th anniversary this year. Approved by Pope Gregory IX in 1218, this religious order was founded by St. Peter Nolasco to ransom Christian slaves from Muslims in Spain. Excerpts from Pope Francis’ message can be found at FSSPX.news
Epiphany in Poland
The feast of the Epiphany became a national holiday again in Poland seven years ago, and its popularity has done nothing but grow since. For over 50 years, January 6th was just like any other day in Poland. Beginning in 1960, under the Communist regime, the people had to work on this great Christian feast day. But since 2011, things have changed, and the Polish have rediscovered with pomp and splendor the meaning of the Magi’s visit to the Child Jesus. A more recent tradition is beginning to flourish: reenacting the journey of the three kings in the streets of the cities and villages. This year, civil authorities once again counted 1.2 million participants across 660 cities.
Christians Persecuted in Africa
In his recent account published by the press agency Fides, Fr. Mussie Zerai, who spent years serving as a chaplain of the Eritreans in Europe, denounces the persecution of “religious confessions and, in particular, the Catholic Church” by the president-dictator Issayas Afewerki, who has been in office since 1993. Public officials have closed down five Catholic clinics. In the city of Asmara, the capital, the minor seminary has been closed. The government wishes to shut down any religious institution it sees as competing with those run by the state.