Rome’s historic Trevi Fountain will flow blood-red on April 29, to call attention to the drama of Christian persecution.

The nonprofit organization Aid to the Church in Need has organized the demonstration, and express hope on their website that the initiative will be

“the start of a long-lasting, concrete reaction everywhere so that the persecuted people of the 21st century can as soon as possible return to fully enjoying their natural right to religious freedom.”

Other associations have joined the initiative, including Communion and Liberation, Caritas Italy, the Christian Workers Movement, the Focolare Movement, and several pro-life organizations. Bishop Antoine Audo, Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo, Syria, will be among the speakers at the event, along with Aid to the Church in Need’s international president, Mauro Piacenza.

This isn’t the first time that the iconic Trevi Fountain has been the stage for political theater. Following the popularity of the 1954 film “Three Coins in the Fountain” and its Academy Award-winning theme song, it’s become a tradition for tourists to the Eternal City to toss coins over their left shoulders into the Trevi Fountain, as a sign that they will someday return. One coin means that you’ll come again; two, that you’ll find love; and if you hope for wedding bells, then you should toss a third coin into the fountain.

It’s estimated that 3,000 Euros are tossed into the fountain each day. The coins are collected by officials and used to subsidize a program of rechargeable gift cards for Rome’s needy, redeemable for groceries at a local supermarket.

And a bonus question, for fun:  How did the Trevi Fountain get its name? Well, it sits at the junction of three roads (tri vie) and hence is in the Trevi District of Rome. But here’s another interesting thing:  According to legend, thirsty Roman soldiers were led by a young virgin by the name of Trivia to a spring some 30 meters from Rome which provided pure, clean water. From the spring, the Romans constructed an aqueduct which carried water to the city–and which ended there, at what is now Trevi Fountain.

Photograph by Kathy Schiffer