Good Friday processions move through ruins of Syria’s civil war

Good Friday processions move through ruins of Syria’s civil war

Hundreds of people celebrate Good Friday in Homs with a procession at night through the damaged neighborhood of Bustan Al Dewan.

They marched past bullet-riddled storefronts, bombed-out apartment blocks and makeshift shrines to pro-government “martyrs” lost in the war.

Clergymen hoisted on their shoulders a miniature coffin filled with flowers, a symbol of the death of Lord Jesus Christ on this most solemn day of Holy Week. Soldiers and black-clad militiamen toting AK-47s provided a measure of security in a pulverized city where rebel car bombs and suicide attackers remain a constant threat.

The Good Friday evening procession through the narrow streets of this war-traumatized city highlighted how a reeling but resilient Christian community is gradually coming back to their roots in Homs’ Old City, traditional hub of the city’s ancient Christian minority. In keeping with the message of Easter, their measured return marks a rebirth, however halting.

That return comes amid widespread fears that sectarian-tinged conflicts such as the Syrian war could drive much of the Christian population from the Middle East. Participants in Friday’s procession, however, vowed never to abandon their beloved albeit war-ravaged neighborhoods in central Homs.

“Christians will always be in Syria,” declared Archbishop Selwanor Boutros Alnemeh in an interview shortly before presiding over services at Our Lady of the Holy Belt Syrian Orthodox Church in Old Homs, famed for a venerated relic said to be a portion of a belt worn by Mary, mother of Jesus. “This is our home. We will never leave Syria.”

Christians will always be in Syria. This is our home. — Archbishop Selwanor Boutros Alnemeh

The celebrated church, which traces its origins to the early days of Christianity, has been largely rebuilt after suffering heavy damage.

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 16:57
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