Christians in Bachar’s Syria

December 14, 2018: Statue of the Virgin Mary dominating the heights of the village of Maaloula. Maaloula was occupied by the Al Nosra front from December 2013 to April 2014. The inhabitants are gradually returning. The village now has 1000 inhabitants against 3000 before the war. Many went abroad. The problem of the economy persists especially due to the lack of tourism, one of the main resources before the war. Part of the village was destroyed during the fighting. This statue of the Virgin Mary, installed in June 2015, replaces the one that had been destroyed by the djihadists in 2013. Maaloula. Syria.

December 14, 2018: Seamstress in a workshop supported by a Christian NGO in the village of Maaloula. This predominantly Christian village, where people are still talking Aramaic (the language of Christ), was occupied by the Al Nosra front from December 2013 to April 2014. Many people have gone abroad to live, but some are returning little by little. They would be about 1000 inhabitants against 3000 before the war. Many people used to live by tourism, an activity still stalled by the ongoing conflict in the rest of the country. When interviewed, a friend of this seamstress spoke of the excellent relations with Sunni Muslim families in the village before the war. The two communities do not talk anymore. “They were our friends and they let them [the Islamists] let in. Nothing will be the same as before.” Maaloula. Syria.

December 14, 2018: A child stands on the roof of Mar Gorgis Church in the village of Maaloula. This predominantly Christian village, still inhabited by Aramaic (the language of Christ), was occupied by the Al Nosra front from December 2013 to April 2014. Many people have gone abroad to live, but some are returning little. They would be about 1000 inhabitants against 3000 before the war. Many people used to live in tourism, an activity still stalled by the ongoing conflict in the rest of the country. Part of the village was destroyed during the fighting. Maaloula. Syria.

December 14, 2018: Statue of St. George destroyed in the village Maaloula. This predominantly Christian village, still inhabited by Aramaic (the language of Christ), was occupied by the Al Nosra front from December 2013 to April 2014. Many people have gone abroad to live, but some are returning little. They would be about 1000 inhabitants against 3000 before the war. Many people used to live in tourism, an activity still stalled by the ongoing conflict in the rest of the country. Part of the village was destroyed during the fighting. Maaloula. Syria.

December 14, 2018: Young worker with a donkey in a street of the small village of Maaloula. This predominantly Christian village, where people are still talking Aramaic (the language of Christ), was occupied by the Al Nosra front from December 2013 to April 2014. Many people have gone abroad to live, but some are returning little by little. They would be about 1000 inhabitants against 3000 before the war. Much of the village was destroyed during the fighting. Nearly four years later, the reconstruction work is complicated by the configuration of this village perched on the mountainside with narrow streets. Maaloula. Syria.

December 13, 2018: View of the Ghouta from the private school Al Riaya of the sisters of Besancon, a large school center overlooking the Ghouta, requisitioned by the Syrian army and destroyed during the fighting of the Ghouta.Damas, Syria.

December 13, 2018: Sister Rita, from the Besançon Sisters’ congregation, picks up shells scattered in the Al Riaya private school of the Besancon sisters, a large school center overlooking the Ghouta, requisitioned by the Syrian army and partly destroyed during fights of Ghouta.Damas, Syria.

December 12, 2018: Children draw to forget the war in a center held by the sisters of the congregation of the Holy Heart located in the poor district of Jaramana, at the gates of Ghouta. Damascus. Syria.

December 13, 2018: statue of the Virgin in an alley of the historic district of Bab Touma in Damascus. SYRIA.

December 13, 2018: Michel (not his real name) living in Adra, in the Ghouta saved by his Sunni neighbors at the arrival of the Al-Nosra front in December 2013. Michel and his family were able to escape later and to take refuge in Damascus. Michel does not want to be recognized in pictures. Damascus. Syria.

December 13, 2018: ELIAS (assumed name) has graduated for more than a year. Normally he should have joined the army but he is hiding because he does not want to go to war. If he were arrested by the police, he would be tortured and immediately sent to the most violent front ( in Idlib in the north of the country). Damascus, Syria.

December 13, 2018: Portrait of Christina, a Christian of Damascus, wounded by a bomb attack at the Battle of Ghouta on January 22, 2018. That day, she returned from college with her close friend Rita. Rita was killed immediately. Christina had her leg amputated. A year after this “accident”, she says, Christina speaks of forgiveness without hesitation, a kind of absolute forgiveness that the cynics could describe as naive. “Those people from Ghouta who sent us this bomb were also bombarded on our side. It was only war.” Damascus, Syria.

December 13, 2018: Altar presenting portraits of Rita, a Christian girl killed by shelling from the then rebellious area of La Ghouta on January 22, 2018, as she was returning from school with her friend Christina. Damascus, SYRIA.

December 14, 2018: a young woman lights a candle while another walks away by signing herself, in the Greek catholic cathedral Our Lady of the Dormition. A Melkite church attached to the Vatican in 1724 and whose rites are celebrated in Arabic and Greek. Bab Touma neighborhood. Damascus. Syria.

December 14, 2018: View of the plain facing the Monastery of Mar Moussa Al-Abashi (St. Moses the Abyssinian) at night, a monastery dating from the sixth century and perched more than 1000 meters from the altitudes at the doors of the Syrian Desert , less than a hundred kilometers from Damascus. Mar Moussa is known to have been rehabilitated by Italian Jesuit Father Paolo of ALL OGLIO, very committed to dialogue and missing in Raqqa in 2013 while negotiating the release of Daesh hostages. Mar Moussa. Syria
December 14, 2018: Detail of a fresco depicting Christ in the small chapel of the Monastery of Mar Moussa Al-Abashi (St. Moses the Abyssinian), a monastery dating from the sixth century and perched more than 1000 meters from the altitudes to doors of the Syrian desert, less than a hundred kilometers from Damascus. Mar Moussa is known to have been rehabilitated by Italian Jesuit Father Paolo of ALL OGLIO, very committed to dialogue and missing in Raqqa in 2013 while negotiating the release of Daesh hostages. The frescoes of the chapel were painted between the eleventh and the thirteenth century. Mar Moussa. Syria

December 14, 2018: Sister Dima prays in the small chapel of the Monastery of Mar Moussa Al-Abashi (St. Moses Abyssinian), a monastery dating from Sixth century and perched more than 1000 meters from the altitudes at the gates of the Syrian desert, less than a hundred kilometers from Damascus. Mar Moussa is known to have been rehabilitated by Italian Jesuit Father Paolo of ALL OGLIO, very committed to dialogue and missing in Raqqa in 2013 while negotiating the release of Daesh hostages. Mar Moussa. Syria

December 14, 2018: Youssef, a permanent resident of the monastery prays in the small chapel of the Monastery of Mar Moussa Al-Abashi (St. Moses the Abyssinian), a monastery dating from the sixth century and perched more than 1000 meters from the altitudes to doors of the Syrian desert, less than a hundred kilometers from Damascus. Mar Moussa is known to have been rehabilitated by Italian Jesuit Father Paolo of ALL OGLIO, very committed to dialogue and missing in Raqqa in 2013 while negotiating the release of Daesh hostages. Mar Moussa. Syria

December 14, 2018: Psalter in Arabic in the small chapel of the Monastery of Mar Moussa Al-Abashi (St. Moses the Abyssinian), a monastery dating from the sixth century and perched more than 1000 meters from the altitudes at the doors of the Syrian Desert, less than a hundred kilometers from Damascus. Mar Moussa is known to have been rehabilitated by Italian Jesuit Father Paolo of ALL OGLIO, very committed to dialogue and missing in Raqqa in 2013 while negotiating the release of Daesh hostages. Arabic is the language chosen by Father Paolo for the prayers of the community of Mar Moussa. In Syria, most churches pray in Aramaic, Syriac, Greek, and sometimes even Latin. Arabic is considered to be the language of Muslims. Syria

December 15, 2018: A dog overhanging the small path that leads to the Monastery of Mar Moussa Al-Abashi (St. Moses Abyssinian), a monastery dating from the sixth century and perched more than 1000 meters from the altitudes at the edge of the desert Syrian, less than a hundred kilometers from Damascus. Mar Moussa is known to have been rehabilitated by Italian Jesuit Father Paolo of ALL OGLIO, very committed to dialogue and missing in Raqqa in 2013 while negotiating the release of Daesh hostages. Isolated in the mountains, the monastery is protected by a large community of dogs. Syria.

December 15, 2018: Portrait of Bachar Al Assad in the presbytery of the church of the Christian village of Marmarita in the “valley of Christians”. Marmita. Syria

December 15, 2018: Niche housing an icon of the Virgin Mary in the village of Marmarita, Valley of Christians. Marmarita. Syria

December 15, 2018: Posters showing portraits of “martyrs” of the civil war in the valley called “Christians”. Valley of Christians. Syria

December 15, 2018: Night procession on the occasion of the first Mass celebrated in the Church of Our Lady of the Flame, destroyed in 2012 by the fighting, in the district of Bab-Hesba. Homs. Syria.

December 15, 2018: communion during the First Mass celebrated in the Church of Our Lady of the Flame, destroyed in 2012 by the fighting, in the district of Bab-Hesba. Homs. Syria.

December 16, 2018: Tomb of Fr. Frans VAN DER LUGT in the garden of the Jesuit monastery Bustan al-Diwan. Of Dutch origin Father Franz was very involved in the dialogue between Christians and Muslims. He was assassinated by jihadists in 2014. Homs. Syria.

December 16, 2018: Children of all faiths received during the day at Sénévé (reception center for children with trysomy 21) disabled children run by the Jesuits in the quarter of old Homs. Homs. Syria.

December 16, 2018: At the end of classes, in the streets of old Homs, a group of schoolgirls cheer up and laugh. Young Sunnis walk together with a group of Christians recognizable by their bareheaded ports. Curiously, the first ones seem free and not at all bothered by the camera, when the others hide by choking their laughter. Bab-Hesba district. Homs.

December 16, 2018: Building destroyed during the fighting at the entrance to Aleppo. Aleppo. Syria.

December 16, 2018: view of buildings through a broken window of the Alkalima school complex, managed by the Greek Orthodox Church in Aleppo and partially destroyed by the fighting. Aleppo. Syria.

December 16, 2018: portrait of Father Putros Kassis, head of the Alkalima School Complex, run by the Greek Orthodox Church in Aleppo and partially destroyed by the fighting. Aleppo. Syria.

December 17, 2018: Scene of life in the neighborhood ravaged by the battles of the Al-Madina souk of Aleppo founded in the 14th century, and listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, like the rest of the ancient city of Aleppo. Aleppo. Syria

December 17, 2018: A worker on the restoration site of the Maronite Cathedral Saint Elie in Aleppo, in the district of the historic churches of Jdeide. Significantly damaged by the fighting, it is currently being restored thanks to the support of various Christian NGOs. Aleppo, Syria.

December 17, 2018: In the heart of Aleppo, in the historic district of Jdeidé, the Maronite Saint Elie cathedral in Aleppo is one of the jewels of the Syrian heritage. Significantly damaged by the fighting, it is currently being restored thanks to the support of various Christian NGOs. Aleppo, Syria.

December 17, 2018: Portrait of Bishop TOBJI Maronite Archbishop of Aleppo, in his cathedral Saint Elie, located in the district of the historic churches of Jdeidé. Significantly damaged by the fighting, it is currently being restored with the support of various NGOs. The Sunni Muslim architect in charge of this project is an old friend of Bishop TOBJI. Aleppo, Syria.

December 17, 2018: Bishop TOBJI Maronite Archbishop of Aleppo, speaking with the sunni muslim architect who is in charge of the restauration of his cathedral.

 

December 17, 2018: Young boy in the area particularly hard hit by the fighting of Sakhour in East Aleppo. Aleppo, Syria.

December 17, 2018: Young woman who became blind as a result of a gas bombardment in the area particularly hard hit by the Sakhour fighting in East Aleppo. Living with her mother and sister with cancer, this young woman is supported by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), which assists all the hard-core residents of the Sakhour neighborhood in East Aleppo. Aleppo, Syria.