Venice, Italy, Nov 21, 2018 at 12:09 am, to express solidarity with persecuted Christians, including Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman recently acquitted of blasphemy, the city of Venice was illuminated in red light Tuesday night.
In a message of support for the initiative, Pope Francis said that the event “will draw the due attention of all to the serious problem of discrimination that Christians suffer in many parts of the world.”
“There are countries where a religion is imposed, others where there is violent persecution or systematic cultural scorn towards the disciples of Jesus!” he said.
tarting after dark Nov. 20, eight historic Venetian buildings, as well as the Rialto Bridge and the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute, were lit up in the color red to bring consciousness to the plight of persecuted Christians around the world.
The same evening, young people from the Archdiocese of Venice made a March pilgrimage through the city to pray for persecuted Christians.
The occasion, sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), follows a similar initiative in February, when the Colosseum was illuminated.
In 2017, ACN also illuminated in red London’s Parliament building, as well as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Paris and the cathedral in Manila, Philippines. The year before, the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome was lit.
From November 21-November 28, other major landmarks in the cities of Montreal, Toronto, Paris, Barcelona, London, Sydney; and Washington, DC will also be illuminated in red for an evening.
This year’s initiative, organized in conjunction with the city of Venice and the Patriarch of Venice Francesco Moraglia, is being put on in a particular way for Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi.
The mother-of-five was acquitted of blasphemy charges by Pakistan’s Supreme Court Oct. 31. Though, her life is still in danger somehow.
Asia Bibi had spent eight years on death row in Pakistan after she was accused of blasphemy for making disrespecting remarks about the Prophet (PBUH) of Islam.
Bibi’s family has asked that she be granted asylum in the United States, the United Kingdom, or in other countries around Europe. Italy has also offered to help Bibi obtain asylum.