Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا abouna.org
Archaeologists excavating a Mosul church damaged by ISIS during its occupation have unearthed about a dozen relics of early Christian saints. The discovery acknowledges the historical connection between Christians and Iraq, while serving as a reminder of the many other artifacts that were destroyed by extremists in recent years.
PIME Asia News reports that about a dozen artifacts were drawn from Mar Thoma church, which fell into ruin during the Battle of Mosul in 2016. These included relics of early saints and parchment manuscripts that belonged to saints. The relics were housed within stone containers that were inscribed with saint’s names.
According to Christian Post, there were six stone reliquaries in total, one of which was inscribed with the name of St. Simon the Zealot, one of the 12 apostles of Christ from the 1st century. Other containers bore the names of St. Theodore, Mor Gabriel, and St. Simeon.
St. Theodore was a 3rd-century Roman soldier who was martyred for his Christian conversion. St. Simeon the Wise is believed to be the one who welcomed the infant Jesus into Jerusalem’s temple when he was presented 40 days after his birth. Mor Gabriel is a more recent figure compared to the previous entries; he served in the 6th century as bishop of the Southern Turkish region.
A report from International Christian Concern (ICC), a watchdog group, noted that relics from St. John the Apostle were also discovered. They wrote of the archaeological finds: “The discovery of the hidden relics at this church is another encouraging development in the broad effort to restore and protect Christian cultural heritage in Iraq after the damage done by the Islamic State,” The ICC wrote.