Praised be Jesus Christ!
Continuing our reflection on the artwork in the church, we now look at the seventh cross from the top, painted on the wall behind the high altar, going clockwise (about nine o’clock).
This is a Latin style cross with the Arabic letter “ ن” – the letter for “N” imposed over it. This cross image and Arabic letter has gained much attention and popularity in recent times – especially in social media. “ ن” is the letter that has spray painted on all Christian property seized by ISIS in Mosul, Iraq. The Arabic word for Christian is “Nasrani,” or Nazarene (referring to Jesus of Nazareth), is abbreviated with the letter “ ن.” These Christians in Mosul were given the choice to convert to Islam, submit to Islamic rule and pay a heavy religious tax, or be killed. As we know, many Iraqi Christians have fled from their home country. This symbol used by ISIS to identify Christians is now being used widely around the world as a way of showing solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters enduring persecution.
While it is certainly true that we as Catholics and Christians in our own country experience degrees of persecution and our religious freedoms are constantly being threatened, may we look at this cross to remind us that we have many brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who are enduring great suffering for their faith. May we continue to pray for them and recall that the religious liberties we enjoy today must not be taken for granted.