The Holy Father authorized the Congregation of the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree regarding the martyrdom following a meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the dicastery.
Born in present-day Turkey, Bishop Melki lived during the rule of the Ottoman Empire. As a priest, and later as Bishop, he witnessed countless persecutions against Christians. Upon hearing news of massive persecutions against minorities, in what in now referred to as the Armenian Genocide, he returned to his diocese. Despite pleas from both Christian and Muslim friends, he refused to leave.
Shortly after, along with four priests, Bishop Melki was arrested and held captive. Following his refusal to convert to Islam, the Turkish prelate was beaten and then beheaded on August 29th, 1915.
The Pope recognized Bishop Melki’s martyrdom In odium fidei (In hatred of the faith). The Partriarchate of Antioch of the Syrian Catholic Church announced that the Beatification Mass will take place on August 29th, the 100th anniversary of his death in Harissa (Lebanon). The Mass will be presided by Mar Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East of the Syrians. Cardinal Amato will also concelebrate the beatification.
The announcement of the recognition of Bishop Melki’s persecution was applauded by the Patriarchate of Antioch for the Syriac Catholic Church, which released a statement on Sunday.
“In these painful times experienced by Christians, especially the Syriac communities in Iraq and Syria, the news of the beatification of one of their martyrs, will surely bring encouragement and consolation to face today’s trials of appalling dimension,” the statement read.
The patriarchate also announced that thousands of Iraqis and Syrians displaced by the war in their countries will be present at the beatification. The statement concluded with a prayer, asking for Bishop Melki’s intercession in helping those suffering from persecution, especially in the Middle East.
“To the supplications addressed by friends and acquaintances during the 1915 genocide, urging him to go out to a safe place, the new Blessed repeated: ‘No way! Even my blood I will shed for my sheep!'”, the statement read.
“Blessed Martyr Michael, intercede for us, and protect especially the Christians in the Orient and all the world in these hard and painful days. Amen.”