A young Iraqi seminarian who once risked his life to protect the Holy Eucharist from the profanations of the Islamic State jihadists now courageously exercises his priestly ministry in his native town.
Martin Baani was a 24-year-old seminarian when he risked his life to save the Blessed Sacrament that was about to be profaned by Islamic State terrorists. He has now returned to his native town as a priest, ready to give the Eucharist to the flock of the baptized entrusted to him.
Here is the sequence of events that started on August 6, 2014: Martin Baani received a call from a friend telling him a neighboring town had fallen into the hands of Daesh and that the same fate threatened his native town of Karamlesh.
Baani immediately decided to head to the church and take the Blessed Sacrament in order to keep the jihadists from profaning it, then got in a car and fled. “I was the last to leave Karamlesh, with the Blessed Sacrament in my hands,” declared the young Levite to the foundation Aide à l’Eglise en Détresse (AED – Help to the Church in Need).
Despite the threats from Daesh, Baani chose to remain in Iraq, instead of fleeing to the United States with his family. He pursued his theology studies at St. Peter’sm Seminary in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
In September 2016, Baani received the priestly ordination along with six fellow candidates. About 500 people assisted at the ordination Mass celebrated by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch, Louis Raphaël I Sako.
A few months before his ordination, Baani declared to AED: “Every day, I go to the refugee camps to accompany the families. We are Christian refugees. Daesh wishes to eliminate Christianity from Iraq, but I have decided to stay. I love Jesus and do not want our history to disappear”.
Almost a year later, after the liberation of the villages of the Nineveh Plains from the Islamic State, Fr. Martin Banni confirmed his decision to stay in Iraq in order to “serve (his) people and our Church”. “I am happy to be celebrating Holy Mass in Iraq now,” he declared.
Sources: Catholic News Agency/ EWTN News – FSSPX.News 27/5/17