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    » 12/03/2013, 00.00

    SYRIA - VATICAN

    For Gregory III, Syria's Greek-Catholic Church has three "true martyrs"

    Fady Noun

    The patriarch spoke to the pope about the tragic events in Maaloula, the Syrian Christian village where people still speak Aramaic. In a climate of terror, three men were told to repudiate their faith, and when they refused, they were publicly executed.

    Beirut (AsiaNews) - The Syrian Greek-Catholic Church has three "true martyrs". They are the "three men from Maaloula who refused to repudiate their faith," and were killed for this reason, said Patriarch Gregory III Laham during his meeting with Pope Francis on Sunday, this according to a press release issued by the Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem of the Melkites.

    The events that led to the three men's death occurred during fighting on 3 -7 September in the town of Maaloula.

    According to eyewitness accounts, men from the Syrian Free Army and the Jabhat al-Nusra Islamic Front carried out a coordinated attack in order to take control of Maaloula.

    When the town fell, a climate of fear was imposed, witnesses said. When three men refused to repudiate their religion, they were summarily executed in public, and six more were taken hostage. This was followed by a failed attempt by Syrian government forces to retake the town (pictured).

    "You," Gregorios III told the pope, "spoke to us, asking us not to let the flame of hope die in our hearts . . . . We want to be martyrs on this earth, martyrs in blood, as was the case for some of our faithful, including the three men from Maaloula: Michel Thalab, Mtanios Thalab and Sarkis Zachem."

    "Holy Father, they are true martyrs. Ordered to give up their faith, they proudly refused. Three others however gave in and were forced to declare themselves Muslim, but later returned to the faith of their ancestors."

    According to what the families who fled from Maaloula had to say, some of their Muslim neighbours took part in the attack that devastated this historic village where people still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Muslims are approximately one third of the population of the village, which is about 50 kilometres from Damascus.

    "Our Church, which you love, today is a church in distress," the Patriarch said. "For this church, which is facing an unprecedented situation in its history, you are Simon of Cyrene, who carried the cross."

    "Like the Blessed Pope John Paul II who, through his prayers and brave actions brought down the Berlin Wall, you, Holy Father, have performed a miracle, calling on Christians and the whole world to fast and pray. You brought about a turning point in the Syrian crisis and in the vision of global politics. The world, after 7 September 2013, has changed."

     

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    See also

    21/03/2008 DAY OF THE MARTYRS
    The Easter of the Martyrs
    This year, the day in memory of missionary martyrs coincides with Easter Monday. In the splendour of the paschal mystery we remember the necessity of sacrifice, the sacrifice of Christ and that of his followers, a sign that truth and love have not abandoned earth.

    21/03/2008 DAY OF THE MARTYRS
    ". . .for you and for all ", the Christian martyrs killed in 2007
    On March 24, the anniversary of the killing of Oscar Arnulfo Romero, archbishop of San Salvador, the 16th Day for the Commemoration of Missionary Martyrs is celebrated. The event is observed all over Italy, with vigils of prayer and fasting at which many young people participate. The ecumenical list of martyrs, including Catholics and non-Catholics.

    23/03/2006 MARTYRS' DAY
    A Rosary for the martyrs


    22/04/2014 SYRIA
    For Gregorios III, the destruction of Ma'aloula churches is a "war crime"
    The patriarch visited the village of Ma'aloula after the army took it back from the Islamist al-Nusra Front. ""An apocalyptic spectacle presented itself," he said. The West is watching the destruction of Syria "with criminal indifference".

    02/12/2013 SYRIA
    For Gregorios III Laham, "the Christian mission in Syria is reconciliation among Muslims"
    The Patriarch of Antioch talks about the role of the Church in Syria in light of the pope's Apostolic Exhortation 'Gaudium Evangelii'. Thanks to the suffering of war, Christians have rediscovered their faith and their role, which is to bear witness to Muslims fighting each other of a different way of life. Papers have been submitted to the Vatican for the beatification of the three young martyrs in Ma'aloula.



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