On his Twitter account, Coptic Bishop Raphaeil, who also serves as Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Christian Church, just wrote:
Oh how lucky you are, Mary, you who are beloved of Christ. They tore your body because of the Cross. Yet they offered you the greatest service and gave you a name of honor as one who attained the crown of martyrdom.
The bishop also quoted Christ in the Bible, “Yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service” (John 16:2).
Mary was killed after Muslim Brotherhood supporters were whipped into a frenzy after Friday mosque prayers and attacked a Coptic church, including by opening fire on it. Along with Mary, three others were killed.
Eyewitnesses confirmed that she was targeted when Brotherhood rioters “noticed that she had a small cross dangling from the rear-view mirror of her car” — hence why the bishop mentions her martyrdom “because of the Cross.”
For updated (and barbaric) details of Mary’s slaying, click here.
Incidentally, let us briefly contrast the Christian and Muslim notions of martyrdom. Koran 9:111 declares:
Indeed, Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah , so they kill and are killed. [It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah ? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment.
Even the authoritative Hans Wehr Arabic-English Dictionary translates shahid (Arabic for “martyr”) as “one killed in battle with infidels.”
On the other hand, Christian martyrdom has always meant being killed — as opposed to killing — on behalf of the Christian faith.
And this is precisely the definition that for centuries has applied to Egypt’s Copts, till the present moment.
RAYMOND IBRAHIM is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist. His books include Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).