Damascus, August 4, 2015
While the Convent of St. Thecla, Equal-to-the-Apostles, in Ma’loula is being restored, the Convent of Our Lady of Saidnaya is still under siege, said auxiliary bishop of the Patriarch of Antioch and All East, Abbot of the Holy Prophet Elias’ Patriarchal Monastery in Shwayya (Lebanon), Bishop Constantine (Kayal) of Zabadani in his interview with RIA-Novosti.
The ancient Convent of St. Thecla that was many times attacked by extremist Muslim groups is currently being restored. “One wing of the Ma’loula Convent is being renovated so that the sisters could return there. There is fear, there is still a danger, but we must return there. We must show that we will remain in this holy land,” Bishop Constantine said.
Ma’loula in Syria is the only remaining place in the world where the population’s spoken language is Aramaic (it is generally agreed that our Lord Jesus Christ spoke Aramaic in His life on earth).
In September and December 2013 Ma’loula was seized by the CCA and Jabhat al-Nusra militants. 13 nuns and 3 lay sisters together with the Mother-Superior of the St. Thecla’s Convent were held captive for over three months and were freed only through intermediary of the Lebanese intelligence services.
The representative of the Patriarchate of Antioch has also reported that at the present time one of the largest convents in Syria – the Convent of Our Lady of Saidnaya – is surrounded by Muslim fanatics.
The agency’s spokesman has also especially noted good relations between the Syrian Christians and representatives of the traditional Islam. “We have absolutely no problems with moderate Muslims. We live side by side with them; they share our joys and our sorrows. We coexist in peace, and even the political leaders belonging to both religions are amiable to each other,” the hierarch said in conclusion.