Killed on Christmas Day
Four members of the Dike Family died in the bombing: (clockwise from top left) Comrade Williams, daughter Lillian, aged 10, and sons Richard (6) and Emmanuel (4). Williams was survived by his wife, son and daughter
Victims of the bombing (clockwise from top left): Mrs Ann Chinedu Aigbadon; Mr Jonathan Onyebuchi; Mrs Cecilia Ebeku; Mrs Eucharia Ewoh; Mrs Clara Iwuozor; Mr Joseph Daniel
Florence Nwachukwu and her son Chiemerie Nwachukwu, aged just seven months, died in the attack
Four sisters from the Obiukwu family died in the bombing: (clockwise from top left) Chioma Linda (aged 23), Ifeoma Linderlin (16), Uche Queenderlin (16) and Chidinma Cynthia (13)
Oluebube Faustina Pius, 10, died with her five-year-old sister, Chidera Sylvia
Father and son Anthony and Innocent Okoronkwo were among the victims
St Theresa's Church in Madalla, Nigeria, after the bomb attack on Christmas Day 2011. Photo © EPA/LUSA
Fr Isaac Achi, parish priest of St Theresa's, calms parishioners after the bombing. Photo © EPA/LUSA
Parish priest Fr Isaac Achi surveys the damage at St Theresa's. Photo © EPA/LUSA
On Christmas Day 2011, terrorists bombed St Theresa's Catholic Church in Madalla in Central Nigeria as a packed church celebrated the birth of Our Lord. 44 people – many of them young children – were killed, while 81 were injured.
Recounting the events, Bishop Martin's calm and controlled manner gave way to distress as he explained: "They were people who had come simply to rejoice in the birth of Our Lord. For this, they were slaughtered."
Extract from a letter of condolence from Bishop Martin Igwe Uzouwku of Minna
"...No amount of words can be adequate to console you, the families of God's faithful in Madalla and Kwanba Deanery. It is a big loss to you, the Catholic diocese of Minna and the entire Catholic Family in Nigeria. But then, we entrust you all into the hands of the Almighty and Merciful Father who let go of His son, Our Lord Jesus Christ the Divine Mercy Incarnate, so that we may have eternal life.
"Our brothers and sisters have gone before us to meet Our Redeemer. Their death was tragic and violent, but it is our hope as Christians, that we shall be united with them on the day of the Resurrection, when our Lord will wipe away all tears and bring together all His children at the banquet Feast of Heaven."
The vast majority of those who died were very young. They included four-year-old Emmanuel Dike, who was killed alongside his father, brother and sister.
Also killed were Chiemerie Nwachukwu, aged just seven months, and his mother, Florence.
For Chiemerie's grieving father it was a bleak end to a year which had begun so brightly with his marriage to Florence.
Giving details of the victims, Bishop Martin said: "Those who died were martyrs. They will be remembered forever."
The bishop said St Theresa's Church was so badly damaged, structural engineers had warned of its imminent collapse.
But, refusing to give in to despair, the bishop set out plans to restore the church, as well as the priest's house (presbytery), school rooms, parish hall and office, which were also badly damaged.
So that rebuilding work could get underway without delay, Aid to the Church in Need's UK office has just made an aid payment of £21,000, in response to an urgent appeal from Bishop Martin.
Key to the restoration initiative at St Theresa's is to create a centre for trauma counselling and dialogue, encouraging inter-faith cooperation and joint action on community projects aimed at tackling poverty.
Bishop Martin said: "The support that you at Aid to the Church in Need can give us will help bind our wounds and enable us to grow even in this time of suffering."