VIDEO: 8,000 Child Victims of War Commemorated in Bethlehem

BY ISN STAFF | December 31, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: A group of ecumenical partners in Bethlehem shared the following with ISN. The group coordinated a prayer service on the Feast of the Holy Innocents at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to honor the 8,000 children lost in the Holy Land since October 7, 2023. Nearly 7,800 of the children were members of families living in Gaza.

The Holy Family escaped King Herod’s massacre with the newborn Jesus. They fled south, the story goes, to Egypt through Gaza. After all, the Roman Catholic Church in Gaza City – now surrounded by rubble and still mourning the murder of two of its parishioners – is named Holy Family Church.

On Thursday, the Church mourned the Holy Innocents caught up in Herod’s fear and rage. These Holy Innocents had nowhere to flee. On Thursday, the Churches of Bethlehem mourned the 8,000 children killed since October 7th, the vast majority of them in Gaza itself, where Jesus, Mary, and Joseph themselves took refuge. 

8,000 olivewood hearts made these children’s lives present in the hearts, minds, and consciences of those who prayed in the liturgy; these hearts will soon be on their way to the homes of thousands of church members of Jesuit parishes and Lutheran congregations across the country who pledged to adopt them. We let these hearts call us to prayer and to action.

Behind every heart is a family that mourns their child. This does not even include the thousands of children who survived but are gravely wounded or those who were spared but who are now orphans.

If we insist on the dignity of every child in the commemoration of the Holy Innocents, we insist on the dignity of every family on this feast of the Holy Family. To insist on dignity is to insist on protection, to end wars that kill these innocents, and to address the long injustices that bring these wars back, generation after generation.

Additional images provided to the Ignatian Solidarity Network from the prayer service organizers:

1 reply
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Life is a precious gift. May each and every child be blessed with joy and happiness during 2024 and beyond.


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