Friday, July 07, 2006

I shall live and die for my religion (Ignatios Maloyan)

When the Turks announced the elimination of the Armenian race, Bishop Ignatios Maloyan prepared the Catholic clergy of Armenia for the great trial which awaits them and told them to pray. He himself was arrested on June 15, 1915 with other Catholics and interrogated by the Turks.
The interrogators asked Bishop Maloyan where he hid his weapons, but the bishop said he had always been faithful to the government. When advised to convert to Islam, Bishop maloyan resolutely refused. He said that he was ready to tolerate all kinds of sufferings even death so that he may always remain true to the faith, and in this was his ultimate happiness. And even if they condemned him to the worst punishments and cut his body with daggers he will not betray his faith. Because of this answer, Bishop Maloyan was beaten and sent to prison.
Despite his broken body, Bishop Ignatios Maloyan gathered his strength and said with all his might, “He who hears me among priests, I ask him to give me the absolution.” With that the soldiers went back hitting him, they extracted his nails and his blood spilled on the jail floor then they forced him to walk with his bleeding feet.
Bishop Ignatios Maloyan remained in jail with his congregation till June 9. On that day his mother visited him and cried for his state. But the bishop, her son, encouraged her by saying, “Don’t despair, oh mother, God has saved me for this glorious day. Don’t cry for me neither suffer, tomorrow, with my beloved imprisoned, I shall walk the road to Diyrbakir, what will happen to us, I don’t know, pray for us. Go back home and encourage my relatives to remain true to the faith.” He also asked for shoes to be able to walk the long way.
The next day, the Turks marched four-hundred-and-forty people to a desrted place called “Chikhan” and gave them the last chance to convert to Islam. All refused. Bishop Maloyan said on their behalf, “Not for a day, did we betray the Turkish government, not in the past or at the present. But if you want us to betray our loyalty to the Christian faith, this will never be.”
Bishop Ignatios Maloyan asked for a permission to say his last words to his believers. He gave them the general absolution and the Holy Eucharist. He also prayed for the courage to die as martyrs. One of the witnesses said, “That hour, I saw a cloud covering the prisoners and from all emitted a perfumed scent. What caused a great surprise was the look of joy and serenity on the faces of the believers, as they were all going to die out of love for Jesus."
The executioners separated the Catholics into three groups and brought them to different places, where they killed them. Before eliminating the last group, where bishop Maloyan belonged, they parted the Bishop from his friends, set him on a horse and took him to Farkabro three hours away from Diyarbekir. On arriving there Maloyan asked the soldiers, “Where are my children?” They answered, “They were taken to be killed.”
He was given the last chance to convert to Islam. Maloyan answered, “I am surprised by your question. I’ve told you I shall live and die for the sake of my faith and religion. I take pride in the Cross of my God and Lord.”
With this, the executioner shot Bishop Maloyan wit his pistol. The bullet hit Maloyan in his throat and he fell to the ground. Before he released his last breath he cried out loud, “My God, have mercy on me; Into your Hands I deliver my last breath.”


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