Saidnaya, Syria, September 11, 2020
A joyous procession made its way through the streets of the Syrian city of Saidnaya on Monday, September 7, on the eve of the New Calendar feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos.
The procession was attended by the nuns of the Monastery of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos together with the girls of the orphanage it maintains, the political and military authorities of the city, the city band, and the Orthodox Christian people as a whole, reports Vima Orthodoxias.
The city, founded during the reign of Emperor Justinian and situated 17 miles north of Damascus, is known for the monastery that sits on a rocky hill overlooking the population below. It is considered the most important pilgrimage center in the Middle East outside the Holy Land.
The monastery is especially beloved because of its wonderworking icon of the Mother of God, thanks to whose protection not only the monastery has been preserved, but the neighboring city of Saidnaya became Christian.
The Mother of God continues to work numerous miracles through her icon, both for Christians and Muslims.
Before the war, the monastery was visited by about 1.5 million pilgrims a year. During the war, it became a target for jihadists and was in danger of bombing, but was saved by the miraculous intervention of the Virgin Mary.
In 2014, a rebel fired a rocket at the monastery. Although the monastery shook from the force of the launch, there was no explosion. The nuns later spoke with a general of the Syrian army who confessed that he and others had seen the rocket fired at the monastery, but just before it struck, a woman in blue vestments appeared in the sky, caught the rocket in her hand, and threw it away.