Maaloula, Syria, March 23, 2018
A Russian delegation headed by State Deputy Dmitry Sablin, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian veteran organization “Combat Brotherhood,” visited the Orthodox Monastery of St. Thekla in Maaloula, Syria yesterday. The delegation was accompanied by Igumen Arseny (Sokolov), the representative of the Russian Patriarchate to the Antiochian Orthodox Church.
During the visit, Deputy Sablin handed over a large donation towards the continuing restoration of the monastery, reports the site of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The monastery was seized by terrorists in 2014 and was under their control for more than a year. Restoration work is currently underway at the monastery. With the support of the Russian Orthodox Church, “Combat Brotherhood” takes an active part in the restoration of the ruined and desecrated monastery.
Sablin first visited Maaloula and the monastery in 2016. He remarked at the time, “It is hard to describe what we have seen here. The holy places are destroyed, and the churches are burnt. A fire was deliberately started at the place where St. Thekla’s remains, cherished by Christians worldwide, were held in the St. Thekla Monastery. All this is happening in the 21st century, Sablin said.
Bishop Ephraim of Seleucia, vicar of His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East, met the delegation at the gates of the monastery, then serving a moleben in the monastery’s restored church together with Igumen Arseny.
Sablin conveyed to Bishop Ephraim the greetings of His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk and handed him a large donation towards the restoration of St. Thekla’s Monastery.
For his part, Fr. Arseny wishes the hierarch of the Antiochian Church a speedy resumption of the monastic life in the monastery. “The Russian Orthodox Church prays for peace in Syria. We hope that the Lord Most High will resurrect this fallen place, and that the monastic community will return here,” the igumen said.
The Russian delegation then went on a walking tour of Maaloula, accompanied by deputies of the Syrian parliament.
In addition to helping the monastery, “Combat Brotherhood” also delivered food, medicines, toys, and Paschal cakes for Pascha last year, and toys and school supplies to 2,500 Syrian Sunday School children in October.
Holy Trinity Monastery in Ryazan, Russia also recently announced a humanitarian aid drive for their suffering brothers and sisters in Syria. The collected goods will be sent to St. Thekla’s Monastery in time for Pascha.