Friday, 11 November 2016 12:50

Where the Martyrs' blood flowed

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Arunachal Pradesh is a mountainous region blessed by the morning sun. But this state on the north-eastern tip of India is also described as a “forgotten land” as government sponsored development programmers do not reach as far as this region. But the Church has not forgotten the 32 tribes living on the frontier with China, Burma and Tibet – she is helping them. And many are seeking baptism.

Arunachal is welcoming the Faith, but until some 23 years ago Christians were still being persecuted, their churches burned down, and their crops destroyed. Indeed, around the middle of the 19th century there were even headhunters abroad; missionaries were beaten and tortured, and the blood of martyrs reflected in the red sunlight of the mountain dawn. But, towards the end of the 20th century, some of the missionaries invited the local people to visit their outpost on the border with Assam. Many came, saw the goodness and joy that the Good News of Christ can bring, and took the message back to their own villages. Now they say, with wholehearted conviction, “Jesus is the best doctor of all. When we call on the name of Jesus, we do not have to pay anything; we don’t have to give a chicken, or a hen.” Despite continuing persecution, almost 150,000 people have been baptized in the past 30 years, and the number is growing. In the newly established Diocese of Miao the largest Catholic village is Neotan. In the past the villagers were animists, or in some cases Protestants. Then in the year 2000 the village elders came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church was the true Church of Christ. Over 500 people joined the elders in being baptized. Overnight, the former Baptist church became a Catholic church, and the local Catholics built a new chapel for those who remained Protestant, “so that they could continue to meet and pray together”. By now the persecution has ceased. The seed is beginning to sprout…


Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a foundation of the Holy See, was promoted by Pope Pius XII and founded by P. Werenfried van Straaten in 1947, to pastorally help the Church in need or those suffering persecution throughout the world. It develops more than 5,000 projects per year in more than 140 countries throughout the world including the building or rebuilding of churches, support for vocations, means of transportation, editing of catechetical material and emergency help for the displaced. ACN seeks to promote prayer, inform and be a source of charity for the poor in the Church and those persecuted throughout the world.

Aid to the Church in Need is author and editor of the Blog "Witnesses of Hope", which can be found on the website