Nayrouz feast – the feast of martyrdom

Nayrouz feast – the feast of martyrdom

The Coptic church considered martyrdom a feast. And started its calendar in the year 284 AC, as it had witnessed the cruelest and most violent acts of persecution against Christians, when martyrs experienced the worst acts of violence.

Thus El Nayrouz feast is known as the feast of martyrdom. In the Coptic seneksar (the book of saints and martyrs), we read every day the words: "today the church celebrates the feast of the martyrdom of (such and such a person), which means that their martyrdom is celebrated as a feast. Martyrs used to be joyous that they are going to be martyrs, for example, St. Abu Fam El Gondy put on his best apparel on the day of his martyrdom and when people asked him why he did so, he answered: "it is my wedding day." Moreover, history records that thirty thousand Christians marched from Demanhour to Alexandria to become martyrs; on their way, they were singing hymns praising the Lord.

Sometimes martyrdom included whole cities as when we refer to the martyrs of Esna or Akhmeem or the Battalion of Thebes that consisted of more than 6000 soldier.

Martyrdom turned into a desire, Christians wished to die for their faith. Many books entitled "urging martyrdom", were published. We can never forget that mother whose children were slaughtered on her lap, while she was encouraging them to remain steadfast.

Maybe she encouraged them by saying:" fear not, it is only a sword stroke that may last for only couple of seconds, after which you will find yourselves in paradise among saints, be encouraged."

A striking example of how Christians desired martyrdom is that lady who refused to worship the idols, so she was sent to a house of adultery. A good Christian planned to save her. So he was dressed as a soldier and entered the house and calmed her down, asking her to exchange costumes with him … so that she may leave in disguise while he took her place. It was done as agreed.

Later on, the trick was discovered and the soldier was taken out to the martyrdom arena. But the lady whom he had saved saw him and shouted " don’t usurp (steal) my crown" as a result they both received the crown of martyrdom.

As a result, persecuted Christianity, without any weapon, was able to defeat the armed Roman Empire, as well as she defeated paganism and all its philosophers.

Soon in the year 313 AC emperor Constantine issued "the decree of Milan" that announced freedom of religion and the era of martyrdom came to an end and the emperor himself became a Christian. Hence I remember a question that one of the Christian believers addressed to St. Augustine saying: "I wish to become a martyr, but the age of Martyrdom is over now. What can I do?" St. Augustine answered: "the one who abides by the spirit of a martyr, God considers him a martyr:

Then, what is the spirit of a martyr? First he is not interested in worldly matters, because if he is indulged in worldly affairs, he would never welcome death. It was wisely said by St. Augustine: "I sat on top of the whole world when I realized in my inward self that I desire nothing in this world and fear nothing as well. It is because a martyr desires nothing in this world, he therefore doesn’t fear death nor the threats of pagan rulers. One of the outstanding characteristic of a martyr is that he has deep faith in the kingdom of God and in life after death. He believes that death is not the end of life, but rather the beginning of an everlasting life that he longs for, simply because of his endless love to God. That's why bravery is one of the characteristics of a martyr. Such bravery that enabled him to refuse worshiping the idols and made him stand before Roman villains without any panic or failure