Ma'loula, Syria, September 15, 2017
The Ma’loula church complex, looted by Islamic militants, is being restored at an accelerated speed. One of the churches is expected to be ready for parishioners in the near future, RIA-Novosti reports.
“The most difficult was restoring the cave of St. Thekla. It suffered greatly, as did the Church of St. Elias. The specialists faced the difficult task of preserving the historical artifacts. However, some of the architectural monuments had to be built anew, because they were lost,” engineer Elias Hilal told reporters.
Ma’loula was seized by Al-Nusra Front militants four years ago. “They destroyed everything they could. They gouged out the eyes of Christian saints. Those icons which they thought they could sell abroad—to smuggle into Lebanon, whose border is only a few miles from Ma’loula—were stolen. New ones, just recently painted by the nuns of St. Thekla Monastery, were simply ripped from the walls, piled in the middle of the church, doused with gasoline, and set on fire. They were expecting to burn the icons and the church itself in one stroke,” Fr. Elias of the Church of St. Elias stated.
Ma’loula is a small town located in a picturesque valley 30 miles north of Damascus. It is one of the few places in the world that still speaks Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ.
The church complex of Ma’loula includes the Monastery of St. Sergius, the Monastery of St. Thekla, and also the Church of St. Elias, which is nearly ready to hold services again.
Restoration work on the church complex was accelerated thanks to the establishment of a de-escalation zone in Syria. The ceasefire, the observance of which is controlled by Russian military police, has allowed for materials to be delivered to the site at an accelerated pace.