04/27/2024, 14.07
Send to a friend

Damaged by an earthquake, Aleppo’s Church of St George is rededicated

Reconstruction work lasted over a year. The entire Christian community, from Greek Melkites to the Evangelicals, gathered for a day of celebration. The service was led by Primate Youssef Absi. Caught between warrying Armenians and Azerbaijanis, the historic church of St John the Baptist in Shushi has been destroyed.

Aleppo (AsiaNews) – The Christian community in Aleppo recently celebrated the rededication of the restored Greek Melkite Catholic Church of St George, severely damaged by the tragic earthquake of 6 February 2023 that hit Turkey and Syria.

Reconstruction lasted over a year, and now the place of worship is sparkling new; for the faithful of Syria’s northern metropolis, the long wait has provided an opportunity to express their joy (pictured).

Greek Catholic Melkite Patriarch Youssef Absi, primate of Antioch and all the East, led the liturgical service marking the church’s reopening, together with various concelebrating archbishops and bishops, including Syriac Catholic Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda (Shaada) and Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo.

The latter were joined by representatives of other Christian denominations like Armenian Evangelical Rev Harout Selimian and Rev Ibrahim Nasir, leader of the Evangelical Arab Church in Aleppo.

The day of celebration began with a procession through the streets around the building to the sound of music and the sight of waving flags, with the insignia of Syria and the Vatican at the top of the procession, followed by a portrait of Saint George, reported local sources quoted on Christian websites.

Four scouts carried a magnificent icon of Saint George on a bed of flowers, while priests, bishops, archbishops, and the patriarch came up at the end, closing the procession.

The celebrations ended with the recitation of vespers inside the church packed with the faithful and the solemn blessing imparted by the Greek-Melkite primate.

Speaking to AciMena, Fr Fadi Najjar, principal of the Catholic school near the church, said that the damage caused by the earthquake included cracks in the church walls on both sides, as well as serious damage to the external façade with falling stones and rubble.

“The first step was removing the loose stones from above,” Najjar explained. After this, walls were consolidatd and the interior was repainted. The work also involved the Providence School, a private established. At the end of the work, “the building rose beautifully from its ashes".

While the reconstruction of a Christian place of worship was celebrated in Syria, reports from Azerbaijan indicate that the historic Church of St John the Baptist (S Hovhannes Mkrtich) in Shushi, a centuries-old point of reference for local Christians, was completely destroyed, as evinced by satellite images (picture 4) taken between 28 December 2023 and 4 April 2024 and published Caucasus Heritage Watch.

Built by Armenians in 1847, the church, also known as Kanach Zham, was damaged during the 2020 war. The Russian Orthodox Church Diocese of Baku had claimed the building, promising to renovate it, but now there is no trace of it.

On hearing the news, the Armenian community expressed deep sadness also because of the destruction coincides with the anniversary of the 1915 genocide. In a statement, Armenian leaders stress that “on the day dedicated to remembrance, it is imperative that the international community strongly condemns these acts of destruction and denial of history.”

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
Francis’s visit and the mission entrusted to the Armenian people
27/06/2016 18:12
Yerevan and Ankara a détente of convenience rather than conviction
13/07/2022 10:48
Armenian Patriarch invokes a peace 'without preconditions' between Yerevan and Ankara
14/12/2021 11:11
Football diplomacy between Ankara and Yerevan
Qara Kelisa, the feast of St Thaddeus of the Armenians in the oldest church in the world (photos)
27/07/2016 15:10


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”