One bishop narrowly avoided death when a bomb landed on his bed during a bombardment of Syria’s capital Damascus.
Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar’s life was only saved because he interrupted his afternoon nap to use the bathroom.
In a message sent to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Nassar wrote: “A shell fell on my bed on Monday, 8th January 2018, at 1.20 pm when I had retired for a little siesta – a few seconds at the sink saved my life!
“The bed was riddled with shrapnel.”
He added that priests and staff at the Maronite Patriarchate feared he had been killed in the blast.
Archbishop Nassar wrote: “They cried with joy when they saw me coming out alive of the smoke and rubble.”
He continued: “Providence watches over his little servant, but now I am exiled like 12 million Syrian refugees who have nothing left.”
According to estimates, 10 shells fell in areas of Damascus including Bab Sharqi, Bab Touma and Al-Qassaa.
The Melkite Patriarchate on Straight Street – the only road mentioned in the New Testament and the place where St Paul stayed – suffered damage when a bomb fell on the courtyard.
The neighbouring Sisters of Jesus and Mary convent was also partially destroyed.
Sister Annie Demerjian told Aid to the Church in Need “It was the providence of God that we were not in the room.”
She also asked for prayers for seven people in hospital who were injured during the bombing.
Speaking about the damage to the Maronite cathedral, Archbishop Nassar wrote: “The damage is major.
“The doors of the cathedral and 43 windows and doors have to be replaced, holes need to be filled, fuel tanks and water tanks need repairing, as does the electricity network, a car was damaged.
“Violence is the only master – innocents are being sacrificed every day.”