The international Red Wednesday campaign—initiated by the Pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) to call attention to religious freedom and persecuted Christians—will take place this year on Wednesday 23 November and will include a prayer vigil at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.
People all over the world will be reminded of the plight of persecuted Christians and the lack of religious freedom in many countries during the month of November, with buildings and landmarks in several different countries illuminated in red, and a series of special initiatives, prayer vigils and witnesses.
At the official international launch, the Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2020–22 will be released in the British Houses of Parliament on 16 November. Every two years, the report specifically addresses the worldwide situation of persecuted Christians. It will be presented in other countries during the following weeks.
On Red Wednesday, ten cathedrals will be illuminated in Australia, including St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. A prayer vigil, led by Msgr Joselito Asis, Episcopal Vicar for Migrants and Refugees, will be held at the cathedral at 7.30pm.
St Christopher’s Cathedral in Canberra will also hold a ‘Night of Witnesses’ prayer event, where a series of banners of recent martyrs will be processed into the Cathedral and testimonies given by special guests, including the Archbishop Emeritus of Pakistan, Cardinal Joseph Coutts.
In the United Kingdom, a wide variety of events will take place both in England and in Scotland. In one intiative, people are invited to gather with friends and families and share a traditional meal from a country where Christians are persecuted, during which they can exchange stories about the suffering church, pray and raise money to support refugees.
In France, bells will ring out from 100 churches all over the country, and a round-table discussion will take place in Les Bernardins, Paris, followed by an evening prayer vigil at Montmartre on 23 November, featuring a testimony by Archbishop Ndagoso from Kaduna, Nigeria.
At least 94 churches in Austria have confirmed their participation, either lighting their churches in red and/or holding prayer events. In South America, ACN Colombia has invited sister Gloria Narvaez, a nun who was held by Islamist terrorists for five years, to share her experiences.
ACN Germany has invited guests from Iraq, Nigeria and Pakistan to give witnesses in the cathedrals of Regensburg, Mainz and Augsburg, among others, with sixty German parishes confirming their participation.
Red Wednesday traces its roots to Brazil in 2015, when the local ACN office organized for the Christ the Redeemer monument to be lit in red to mark the persecution of Christians in Iraq. In 2016, inspired by the same idea, ACN Italy illuminated the Fontana di Trevi. ACN UK took the idea further and created #RedWednesday to commemorate all persecuted Christians on a specific Wednesday in November, and this was later expanded to a whole ‘Red Week’ in some countries. In the UK, in particular—but also in Melbourne—the initiative has been embraced not only by different Christian confessions, but also by other religions, in a show of solidarity.
The vigil will be presided over by Msgr Joselito Asis, Episcopal Vicar for Migrants and Refugees.
All are welcome to this evening as we pray and stand in solidarity for Christians around the world being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Joining many other cathedrals and churches around the world, St Patrick’s will be floodlit in red on this night.
Visit redwednesday.org to learn more.
Main image: Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, lit in red for Red Wednesday 2020. All images courtesy of Aid to the Church in Need.
Bishop Shane Mackinlay26 September 2023