“A Martyr’s Crown”

Synopsis of the novel:

American journalist, Sarah Castillo, who blames her husband for her teenage son’s death, has a life-changing encounter with a Catholic priest who survived torture at the hands of jihadists. Sarah meets Fr. George Rama when she asks him for a quote about an attack on a Catholic church in Iraq.

Through Fr. Rama—and the lessons of her late father as related in his journal—Sarah learns what forgiveness, faith and love really mean. Her newly acquired friend, Sholeh, an Iranian immigrant who has converted to Catholicism from Islam, proves a staunch ally in Sarah’s quest to help Fr. Rama’s struggling community of Chaldean Catholics.

Background on the novel:

“A Martyr’s Crown” is the fruit of two years worth of interviews and work among the Chaldean Catholic immigrant community in Phoenix, Arizona by Joyce Coronel.

In November of 2010, while on assignment for The Catholic Sun, Coronel stumbled on a story she said deeply affected her and changed her life forever.

She heard about an attack on a Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq in which 58 people were killed. What began as trying to get a local angle on the story turned into a series of articles about the struggles of the Chaldean Catholics both in Iraq and in the United States. It was also the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Joyce and many local Chaldean Catholics

In 2011, Coronel became a catechist at Holy Cross Chaldean Catholic Mission in Gilbert. “I’ve learned to see our Catholic faith through the light and beauty of the East,” Coronel said. “The tremendous, ongoing suffering of the Chaldean people and indeed of all Christians in the Middle East is scarcely known. I hope to draw attention to that with this book.”

Coronel, who grew up in Phoenix and is the mother of five sons, has been active in the pro-life movement since her high school years. She says the plight of the Chaldean people and Christians in the Middle East is very much a concern for those who care about defending human life.

“Those of us who care about the cause of life need to understand the very grave suffering of the Christians of the Middle East, so long ignored by the media. Throughout the Middle East, being a Christian is fraught with danger,” Coronel said. “From discrimination to death threats to outrageous demands for payment of the so-called infidel tax, Christians in the region continue to be persecuted for their faith. More than half of the Christian population has left Iraq in the last few years. It’s an immense tragedy.”