Damascus, March 21, 2016
In spite of the difficult military and political situation in Syria, monasteries and convents of the Orthodox Church of Antioch are continuing their life of fasting and prayer, among them the Saidnaya Stavropegic Convent, according to its official Facebook page. It should be noted that the Convent of the Nativity of the Mother of God at Saidnaya was one of the first Syrian monastic communities to suffer at the hands of militants: on Sunday January 29, 2012, the convent, situated 35 kilometers (c. 21.7 miles) from Damascus, was shelled, although the shell that pierced the wall and flew into a cell did not explode.
On Monday March 14, at 5.00 PM the clergy and sisters of Saidnaya Convent started reading the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete (also known as the Canon of Repentance).
After the service the clergy and guests of the convent had a traditional meal: the sisters cooked for the first day of the Lent the traditional dish of lentils and rice, and mujaddara, which is common in the Arab Christian world during the Lent.
On Friday after the prayer behind the ambo the convent clergy celebrated the Lenten prayer service to Greatmartyr Theodore the Tyre ("the Recruit") and blessed the koliva, prepared and decorated by the nuns.
On Saturday the convent delegation headed by Abbess Febronia (Nabhan) was present at the diocesan meeting in the city of Damascus and greeted His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch after his return from a pastoral visit to Balamand.
On the day of the Triumph of Orthodoxy the nuns, clergy and parishioners of the convent prayed together at the Divine Liturgy at the convent's main church, adorned by the First Sunday of Great Lent – known in the Arab Christian world as "the Resurrection of Icons."
In the evening the clergy and girls of the convent’s orphanage congratulated Abbess Febronia with the upcoming Mother's Day.