Pope Francis is greeted by faithful as he meets with bishops, priests and nuns at the Cathedral of San Lorenzo during his one day visit to Genoa, northern Italy, Saturday, May 27, 2017. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

Pope: More Christian martyrs today than in ancient times

May 27, 2017 - 7:44 am

GENOA, Italy (AP) — Pope Francis prayed Saturday for the Coptic Christians killed a day earlier in Egypt by Islamic extremists, saying that today there are more Christian martyrs for the faith than in ancient times.

During meeting with clergy in the Italian port city of Genoa, Francis urged them to pray "for our brothers the Egyptian Copts, who were killed because they did not want to renounce their faith."

"Let's not forget that today there are more Christian martyrs than in ancient times, than in the early day times of the church. There are more," Francis told bishops, priests and nuns gathered in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo.

The attack Friday against Christians traveling to a monastery south of Cairo killed 29 people. The attack, which took place on the eve of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, was the fourth to target Egypt's Christian minority since December.

The Egyptian Cabinet says 13 victims wounded in the attack remain hospitalized.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi blamed the attack on suspected Islamic State group extremists in Libya.

After Francis visited Egypt last month, IS vowed to escalate attacks against Christians and urged Muslims to steer clear of Christian gatherings and Western embassies.

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