One year ago today, on Feb. 15, 2015, ISIS released a video showing the beheading of 21 Christian young men, whom it had executed for the faith of Jesus Christ. Many of these men died while calling audibly on the name of Jesus. They have since been canonized as saints and martyrs in the Coptic Church.
The sonnet below is devoted to the glory of God and to the witness of these martyrs. Their names are Milad Makeen Zaky, Abanub Ayad Atiya, Maged Soliman Shehata, Youssef Shukry Younan, Kirollos Boshra Fawzy, Bishoy Astafanous Kamel, Samuel Astafanous Kamel, Malak Ibrahim Sinyout, Tawadros Youssef Tawadros, Gerges Milad Sinyout, Mina Fayez Aziz, Hany Abdel Mesih Salib, Samuel Alham Wilson, Ezzat Boshra Naseef, Luka Nagaty Anis, Gaber Mounir Adly, Essam Baddar Samir, Malak Farag Abrahim, Sameh Salah Farouk, Gerges Samir Megally, and Mathew Ayairga (from Ghana).
Their faces held no fear. A solemn gaze,
Grave as the fabled majesty of kings,
Was all that greeted us, as if to say:
“We too must die; be strong, and hope all things.”
The King who stood at Pilate’s judgment seat
Arraigned with blood, looked silently as they
On evil’s triumph and its cruel deceit.
His realm’s not of this world. His are no men
Of swords and bloody shouts and conquerings:
His war is Love, to life’s own laying down.
He is immortal. He shall rise again
In every place Love’s blood was ever shed:
Love’s dead shall rise (fear not), and at their feet
The kingdom of this world shall cast its crown.