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Will Akash Bashir become Pakistan’s 1st saint?



Akash Bashir.

Anne-Laure Colin Anne-Laure Colin - published on 03/25/24

A thanksgiving Mass was celebrated in the cathedral of Lahore (Pakistan) to close the diocesan phase of the cause for beatification of young Akash Bashir.

“I will die, but I will not let you go in.” These were Akash Bashir’s last words as he offered his life in sacrifice, preventing a terrorist attack on March 15, 2015, in St. John’s Church in Lahore, Pakistan. By giving his life, he saved hundreds of people.

The diocesan phase of the cause of beatification began in January 2022, and ended with a solemn Mass presided over by the Archbishop of Lahore, Sebastian Shaw, on March 15, 2024, in Lahore Cathedral.

A speedy start to the process

According to the rules established by the Church, at least five years must pass after a person’s death before a process can be opened. It only took seven years for Archbishop Sebastian Shaw to announce in January 2022, after Vatican approval, that the 20-year-old Pakistani had been declared a “servant of God,” launching the start of the diocesan investigation.

This was a swift beginning. Compare it, say, with that of American Fr. Stanley Rother, murdered in Guatemala in 1981, whose process began almost 26 years after his death, in 2007.

This “five-year” rule is mandatory unless the pope gives a special dispensation, as in the case of Fr. Jacques Hamel, where it took only a few months after his murder to open his beatification process. 

Akash Bashir’s parents hold up a photo of their martyred son.

The Church of Pakistan hopes he will be proclaimed a martyr in 2024

During the Mass of thanksgiving, Archbishop Shaw recalled Akash Bashir’s inspiring courage. He then handed over to the pope’s representative in Pakistan, Archbishop Germano Penemote, the dossier of the diocesan investigation for the recognition of Akash Bashir’s martyrdom. The documents have now been entrusted to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which is in turn studying them with theologians and historians.

After the touching ceremony, Fr. Noble Lal, a priest present at the Mass, told the Fides news agency, “Akash’s story and faith-inspired choice are very important for our Church. Akash is a powerful source of inspiration for our young people!”

He emphasized the immense joy of the Pakistani Christian people and hopes that the young man “can be proclaimed a martyr by 2024 or for the jubilee year of 2025.”

Akash Bashir is the first person in Pakistani history to embark on the path to sainthood: welcome news in a country where the faithful are persecuted in the name of their faith. 

A country where believing in Jesus is synonymous with persecution

For Christians, living in Pakistan means choosing to say “yes” to being repressed in Jesus’ name. In the lamentable 2024 World Watch List of Christian persecution, the Protestant NGO “Open Doors” ranks Pakistan in seventh place. In this country of 241 million inhabitants, only 1.8% are Christians, and they face the so-called anti-blasphemy laws, which continue to lengthen the list of death sentences and arbitrary prison terms.

Christians in PakistanIslamist MilitantsMartyrsSaints
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