In 409 AD hundreds of Christians were beheaded for their faith. "Among them - said Msgr. Sako - a widow named Scirin-Miskenta, with two children, and general Tahmazgerd, who carried out the decree of the king, who ordered the massacre. "Seeing their faith, serenity and the trust of the widow - continued the prelate - Tahmzgerd converted to Christianity" and as a result was "beheaded later." Around 470, to commemorate the massacre of Christians, the bishop of Kirkuk Maruta "built a sanctuary” on the hill where "the martyrs were buried”. The "Red Church", as it is called, junits Christians and Muslims and is now "the graveyard of the Chaldeans"; the relics of martyrs, custodied on the main altar, have always been a destination for the processions of the faithful.
To celebrate the anniversary of the martyrdom, the diocese has organized a series of events: on Wednesday, a day of fasting for peace; Thursday, hymns of the martyrs and a conference at the recently restored Sanctuary; on Friday Mass will be celebrated; on Saturday a play, staged by the choir of the cathedral and the church of St. Joseph. Under the slogan "true to our fathers in faith," Christians in Kirkuk want to "bear witness to the faith, love, trust and openness."
The history of violence and persecution against Christians has continued uninterrupted. Abductions, kidnappings, assassinations, fleeing families are the dramatic testimony of a "chain of martyrs - underlines Msgr. Sako - that continues. Our country is dotted with shrines to martyrs that people constantly visit, it is a spirituality of martyrdom". Christians find the strength to "remain faithful" in the "Holy Spirit, but also in the liturgy, especially the Eucharist." "In every Mass - added the archbishop of Kirkuk – we are called upon to make the sacrifice of Christ in our life, in his words; take, break, give ... Do this in memory of me: this is the sacred history of Christians and ... their journey”.