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Newly Glorified Martyrs of Antioch


The fathers of the Holy Synod announced on the 19th October the holiness of two Antiochian martyrs to be included in the Synaxarion on 16th July: Father Nikola Khasha who was martyred in Mersin in 1916, and his son in the flesh Father Habib Khasha, who was martyred in Jabal Sheikh in the year 1948.


As a layman, Fr Nicholas was an activist for returning the Patriarchate of Antioch, which had been under Greek domination since the Melkite Catholic schism, to Arab control and was active in establishing and developing schools for the community. He was then ordained to the priesthood, where he served the Archdiocese of Damascus. Patriarch Meletios (al-Doumani) then delegated him as his vicar for the Diocese of Mersin, whose bishop, Alexander (Tahhan) had abandoned it because of its poverty and the disturbances it was experiencing. In Mersin, Fr Nicholas succeeded in reuniting its dispersed flock and caring for and strengthening the faithful, who were subjected to various forms of persecution and ethnic cleansing. The Turkish authorities grew frustrated with Fr Nicholas and arrested him on the basis of slander against him, then tortured him until he was martyred.


Habib, the eldest son of Fr Nicholas, followed in his father's footsteps. Despite his success in business, he decided to be ordained to the priesthood and served as a priest in Damascus and Cairo. His service was distinguished by a life of prayer, devotion to shepherding the faithful with love and self-sacrifice, and his closeness to the poor, who he cared for like he cared for his own family, feeding them with their food and the money that his brothers sent to help them because of his poverty. His life was crowned with a martyric death on Mount Hermon, where smugglers beat him to death because he was a Christian priest, fulfilling his desire to imitate his father.


The faithful have passed down the stories of these two priests and they remain alive in the memory of Antioch because "their blood has attested that the Holy Spirit is in them and because though love they have transcended the barrier of the earthly body and become figures of light."



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