Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Wednesday, 10 July 2024
Iraqi crosses damaged by ISIS join Cathedral exhibition

John Pontifex/ ACN :

Three crosses that suffered damage when extremists seized Iraq's Nineveh Plains are to be added to an exhibition of Christian crosses in central London.


They will join other artefacts as part of Westminster Cathedral's 'It's Iconic!' exhibition, which opened last month.


The crosses come from Chaldean and Syriac Catholic churches on Iraq's Nineveh Plains which were targeted when the extremist group seized the region in Summer 2014.


Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)'s Dr. John Newton, who helped source the crosses, said their addition would be a poignant reminder of the suffering of northern Iraq's Christians.


Dr. Newton, communications and research manager for ACN (UK), said: "These crosses are a very timely addition to the exhibition. It was exactly a decade ago that Daesh started its genocidal campaign of conquest in northern Iraq, attempting to eradicate Christians, Yazidis and others from their ancient homelands. And yet the cross is a perennial symbol of hope shining through suffering.


"One of the damaged items comes from Teleskuf, where Daesh devastated St George's Chaldean Church - and yet by the end of 2017, Daesh had been driven out, St. George's had been repaired and Christians had started returning to the town."


Lucien de Guise, who curated the exhibition, welcomed the war-scarred artefacts. He said: "The remnants of Iraqi crosses are especially welcome as they convey the power of the crucifix in a different way due to their degraded condition.


"Christ's suffering for humanity becomes even more apparent when his body is reduced to just an arm or a pair of feet.


"What's concealed really can be more expressive than what's revealed. These loans from ACN are also a reminder of how that suffering has continued among the people who were among the earliest to follow the message of Christianity. They are crushingly poignant. It's also rare to have access to works from places where they are still filled with meaning."


The crosses are not the only new items to be added since the exhibition opened three weeks ago, and a rare monstrance belonging to Westminster Cathedral has also joined the display. The 1907 monstrance was created by Omar Ramsden, a leading exponent of Art Nouveau.


Mr. de Guise expressed his gratitude to Catholic charity ACN for providing the crosses from the Nineveh Plain.


He said: "I would like to thank ACN for supplying these Iraqi items. It's not easy to assemble such material, and ACN handles the task with admirable dedicated and sense of purpose.


"The message of the exhibition is the universality of the Catholic Faith. What could be more important than the presence of works from the cradle of Christianity?


"Just as Catholicism has spread around the world, it would be tragic to see it die where it was born."