Novel Inspired by Author's Work with Chaldean Christians


Editor’s note: Today, I’m pleased to share the following column regarding a wonderful new book A Martyr’s Crown by my friend Joyce Coronel. I had the pleasure of traveling through the Holy Land with Joyce last year and know of her deep personal commitment to the plight of the Chaldean people. I would like to personally thank The Catholic Sun of the Diocese of Phoenix for their kind permission to reprint this article. LMH 

A Martyr’s Crown by Joyce Coronel

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

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.

“I was covering a protest in downtown Phoenix and a woman there was holding a picture of a beautiful baby boy,” Coronel said. “She explained to me that terrorists had restrained his mother and shot the baby in front of her because he wouldn’t stop crying. In that instant, I knew I could no longer remain on the sidelines. I could not conceive of a more diabolical act.”

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, one commonly overlooked by a politically correct, secularized media.”

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.

Coronel is willing to speak to any group in the Diocese of Phoenix, free of charge, about the plight of the Chaldean Catholic Church. Her presentations throughout the Valley over the past year have been well-received and usually receive standing ovations. Some are moved to tears. The first copies of the book will be available locally at a Michael Poirier concert to benefit the Chaldean Catholic Church in Arizona. The concert takes place Feb. 8 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, For more information on the event, call (480)239-6768.

Originally published on


About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

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