Statue of Virgin Mary, stolen by terrorists, restored to Maaloula

Damascus, SANA – A statue of the Virgin Mary and a number of historical artifacts, including bells and plates, which had been seized by terrorists previously, were restored on Saturday to their original place in Maaloula town, Damascus Countryside.

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In a speech on this occasion, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, All the East, Alexandria and Jeruslaem Gregory III Laham stressed the importance of the restoration of the statue and the artifacts, which include three bells, two plates from St. Thecla Convent, a brass baptismal font, vessels, and crucifixes.

He noted that holding the ceremony at the St. George Church, which terrorists had damaged and which was restored, symbolizes the resurrection of all of Syria with its churches, mosques, and homes, praying for the sake of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq.

Patriarch Laham also thanked everyone who helped recover stolen artifacts, asserting that church bells and mosque minarets will continue to resound with faithful cries for life and to be a voice for human dignity in the face of those who have no dignity or values.

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The iconic ancient town, located near Damascus, was overrun by terrorist organizations in September 2013. Maaloula, which is home to ancient monasteries and churches, suffered unspeakable brutality, vandalism and destruction at the hands of terrorists.

Those terrorists blew up St. Thecla Convent, which brought a part of it tumbling down, before moving to vandalize the new church and burn the temple’s marble gate decorated with holy icons.

Walls had been charred, saints’ icons stripped off, and Christ’s icons stabbed with knives. An array of several other icons of priceless value were damaged and defaced.

Moreover, lootings abounded in the town. Terrorists stole brass pieces, chandeliers, and a 3-meter-long bronze statue of Jesus Christ overlaid with gold that Russia gave to the monastery as a gift in 2009, among other things.

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However, since April 2014, the date when the army restored security and stability to the town, several pieces and icons have been retrieved gradually.

Those were either restored to their places in Maaloula or relocated in churches and monasteries elsewhere in Damascus.

On May 26, 2015, three bells and two copper plates stolen by terrorists from the churches of Maaloula were relocated to the Melkite Greek Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Dormition in Damascus city.

Earlier, an antique wooden door dating back to 1700 years ago and a number of crosses and icons were restored to the Greek Catholic Monastery of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus in Maaloula in December 2014.

Haifa Said / Hazem Sabbagh

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