Iraqi church formerly defaced by ISIS rededicated on Assumption feast
FREE Catholic Classes
An Iraqi church damaged and defaced by the Islamic State in 2014 was rededicated Thursday for the parish's celebration of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary.
Qaraqosh, Iraq, (CNA) - The Syriac Catholic Church of Mar Behnam and Mart Sarah in the Iraqi city of Qaraqosh welcomed Archbishop Petros Mouche of Mosul, priests, and the local Catholic community to celebrate the solemnity.
Archbishop Mouche rededicated the church's altar, which had been burned by the Islamic State. After renonvations and rebuilding, the interior of the church, once charred black by fire, has been painted white.
"All these people do not see the community reborn only as stones, but as faith around Christ who is celebrated in the Resurrection. So the Resurrection of Christ is the resurrection of the community itself that goes on. Our community has about 800 families," Fr. George Jahola told Vatican News in an interview published Aug. 15.
Five years ago on the August Feast of the Transfiguration, the Islamic State devastated the city of Qaraqosh in Iraq's Nineveh Plains causing Christians to flee the region.
"In 2014 we left our churches and our homes. The city had about 50,000 Christian inhabitants," Fr. Jahola said.
Now the Christian population in the city has been reduced to half of what it was. About 26,000 Christians have returned to Qaraqosh, Jahola explained.
During their occupation, the Islamic State desecrated the churches in Qaraqosh, in some cases writing battle instructions on church walls. St. George's Syrian Catholic Church was turned into a bomb factory and used as storage for supplies of deadly chemicals to make powerful explosives. The church of the Immaculate Conception was used as an indoor shooting range with mannequins as targets, according to Aid to the Church in Need.
The Church of Mar Behnam and Mart Sarah was charred black and its bell tower was demolished. "But we never stopped imagining how beautiful our church would be, once fixed," Fr. Jahola said.
Christmas Mass was celebrated in the church in Dec. 2018 during the church's reconstruction. The bell tower was rebuilt in 2019.
"We started the reconstruction project even before the liberation of the city, in the Nineveh Plains, when we were refugees," he said. "We have worked to rebuild houses and communities as believers, because this is the sense of belonging both to a parish and to a community."
ISIS was driven from Mosul in 2017, and the last remaining town of the original caliphate in Syria fell earlier this year. However many Christians who fled the ISIS onslaught in 2014 have not returned to their homes in Mosul and the Nineveh region.
Although the territorial ISIS caliphate is gone, security threats to Christians and Yazidis in the region remain. There are up to 15,000 ISIS fighters estimated to have remained in Iraq, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Christianity has been present in the Nineveh plain in Iraq - between Mosul and Iraqi Kurdistan â€" since the first century.
"What we have learned from the Gospel, from the Lord, is to be instruments of peace, and also to live peace," Fr. Jahola said.
"We try in every way to realize it here, where the majority is Muslim, where there is still someone who still bears hatred. We truly believe in this, in forgiveness and in leaving the past behind to continue towards the future," he said.
Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
The United States is moving closer to war with Iran as that nation escalates tensions in the region. However, a war would be a disaster not ... continue reading
Catholics in the Archdiocese of Ranchi have appealed for help after a local Jesuit mission was brutally attacked by a large armed mob last ... continue reading
A Moroccan journalist has been jailed for allegedly procuring an abortion and for fornication. The country's penal code bars abortion ... continue reading
A Catholic priest was killed in Nigeria this week when the car he was driving was set ablaze. Jalingo, Nigeria, (CNA) - A Catholic priest ... continue reading
At the launch event for a new African Catholic news agency Saturday, a Kenyan bishop urged journalists to focus their work on the ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- Daily Readings for Friday, September 20, 2019
- Prayer Requests Live for Wednesday, September 19th, 2019 HD Video
- The unborn child is a person with the right to an identity, say ...
- Brooklyn diocese teaming with NYPD to search for church vandal
- A new book from a Vatican journalist, for Vatican journalists
- Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions: Saint of ...
- Daily Reading for Saturday, September 21st, 2019 HD Video
- Prayer Requests Live for Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Friday, September 20th, 2019 HD
- Prayer Requests Live for Tuesday, September 17th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, September 19th, 2019 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org
Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel
Learn the Catholic way
Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all
K-12 & Adult Education Classes
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education
Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.