The British Orthodox Church

within the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate

Westminster Cathedral Mass for Iraqi martyrs

At the invitation of the Archbishop of Westmister (Mgr. Vincent Nicholls) Abba Seraphim, accompanied by Father Seraphim Mina, attended a Mass at Westminster Cathedral on 26 November to commemorate all those who have died or been injured in recent weeks in Iraq, especially in the bombing of Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad on 31 October. White floral crosses with lighted candles and photographs of those killed, displayed  at the entrance to the sanctuary, were a poignant reminder of the victims. The congregation included a large number of  Iraqi and Middle Eastern Christians and prominent among the clergy attending those from the Syriac Orthodox (led by H.E. Archbishop Mar Athanasius Touma), Chaldean, Assyrian and Maronite churches. The intercessions were offered by Iraqi children and before the final blessing messages were read from the Christian community in Iraq, expressing appreciation for the prayerful support being offered by churches in England and Wales, as well as an affirmatiion of support by the Iraqi Christian communities in the United Kingdom.

Joint remembrance service for Iraqi Christian martyrs

The British Orthodox Church was represented by Fathers Seraphim Mina and Simon Smyth  (representing H.E. Abba Seraphim) at a service for the Christians martyred in Our Lady of Salvation Syrian Catholic Church in Baghdad on Sunday 31 October. The joint remembrance service was organised by the Christian Churches for the Iraqi Communities in the UK at Holy Trinity Syrian Catholic Church, Brook Green, Hammersith, West London, on Friday 12 November.

Also representing the Council of Oriental Orthodox Churches (COOC) were H. E. Archbishop Athanasius for the Syriac Orthodox Church, H. G. Bishop Angaelos (President of COOC and representing His Holiness Pope Shenouda) and Father Snork Bagdassarian (representing the Armenian Primate of Great Britain) as well  many priests and faithful from the Catholic,  Anglican, Byzantine & Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Messages of support and assurances of prayer were read out on behalf of H.H. Pope Shenouda, the Archbishops of Westminster  the Archbishop of Canterbury. Bishop Angaelos announced that Sunday 21 November has been designated a Sunday of prayer throughout the Coptic Orthodox Church for remembrance of the Christians of Iraq.

Fifty-two candles each in the centre of a floral cross – one for each of those martyred in Our Lady of Salvation Church – were positioned throughout the Church, along the aisles and across the front of the Church and there were  photograqphs of the new martyrs at the front of the Church.

Although there was  evidence of sadness and grief, Christian faith, hope, love and even joy were strongly present too.  The  emphasis on throughout was  that though in one sense separated from the departed martyrs we are still united with these who now behold God in the promised paradise, in the bosoms of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; and especially at the celebration of the Eucharist, in which heaven and earth are one.  If faith, hope and love were evident, both in the messages at the beginning and throughout the Mass in the singing and prayers, they shone forth in an inspirational sermon delivered with power and passion by the celebrating priest Father Nizar Semaan. Unusually in a church, it drew forth a standing ovation which it took some minutes to quieten before the service continued.  At the conclusion of the homily he declared,  “The heavenly Father will welcome all those who paid so dearly with their blood.  Their martyrdom will bless the Church of our Lady of Deliverance, making it a stronger bastion for future generations…”


Upcoming events

  • 16 April 2014
    • Holy Wednesday: Portsmouth
      At 167 Stubbington Avenue, Portsmouth
      Wednesday Prayers 12.00
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  • 17 April 2014
    • Holy & Great Thursday: Babingley
      10.30 a.m. Third Hour Prayer & Office of the Footwashing
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      Divine Liturgy for Holy Thursday 20.30
      11th Hour Prayers and Eve of Friday Prayers 22.00
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      Eve of Thursday Prayers 19.00


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