People stand in prayer in front of an image of St. Francis Xavier in this screen grab from a video from The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. The video for the month of March is dedicated to modern martyrs as witness to Christ. (CNS photo/ThePopeVideo.org)

Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians who never renounce their love for Christ and are faithful to the point of death are a blessing for everyone, Pope Francis said.

“There will always be martyrs among us. This is a sign that we’re on the right path,” the pope said in a video message for the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer, released Feb. 27.

The pope’s prayer intention for the month of March is dedicated to modern martyrs as witnesses to Christ.

“The courage of the martyrs, the witness of the martyrs, is a blessing for everyone,” he said in his video message, noting that it is estimated there are more martyrs today than during the time of the early church.

“Let us pray that those who risk their lives for the Gospel in various parts of the world might imbue the church with their courage and missionary drive. And to be open to the grace of martyrdom,” he said.

The pope began the video by sharing a story he heard from a Muslim man about his Christian wife while visiting a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece.

It is “a story that is a reflection of the church today. It is the story of a little-known witness of faith,” he said.

He said the man told him terrorists had confronted them “and asked what our religion was. They approached my wife with a crucifix and told her to throw it on the ground. She didn’t do it, and they slit her throat in front of me.”

The pope said the man “held no grudges. He was focused on his wife’s example of love, a love for Christ that led her to accept, and to be faithful to the point of death.”