Syriac Catholic Bishop Flavianus Michael Melki, martyred during the "Assyrian Genocide," will soon be called 'blessed.'
According to Fides, the bishop will be beatified at the Patriarchal convent of Our Lady of Deliverance in Harissa, Lebanon, on the evening of Saturday, Aug. 29, during a solemn liturgy. Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III will preside over the beatification while numerous Patriarchs and heads of Christian churches of the East from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq are expected to attend.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will read aloud the decree of beatification at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, which will take place on the centenary of the future canonized saint's birth.
Born in 1858, Flavianos Michael Melki would go on to be an Eastern Catholic prelate of the Brothers of Saint Ephrem, and later the Syrian Catholic eparch of Gazarta, where he would be killed. As a priest, the cleric lived in extreme poverty and sold his vestments to help the poor. In the summer of 1915, Ottoman authorities arrested him along with the Chaldean bishop of the time. Both bishops, sources observed, were killed after refusing to renounce their faith and convert to Islam. Melki was tortured to death and decapitated. On Aug. 8, Pope Francis approved his beatification affirming that Melki was killed in hatred of the faith.
"A blessed of our church has not been proclaimed for a long time," said Syriac Catholic priest Nizar Semaan, noting "Bishop Melki will be the first of the martyrs of the Syrian Catholics of that Genocide to be raised to the honor of the altar.
"His beatification is a gift for all Christians of the East," he said, "In these times of new trials," Father Nizar highlighted, "his figure shows us the luminous faith with which he lived the terrible persecution one hundred years ago, and he can give hope and courage to all the baptized. We pray that through his intercession all are helped to profess faith in Christ in the countries in the Middle East, and also pray so that political and military leaders take paths that lead to peace." (D.C.L)