ISIS Desecrates Saint’s Remains, Bulldozes Monastery–Priest Still Missing

ISIS Desecrates Saint’s Remains, Bulldozes Monastery–Priest Still Missing

marelian0

August 21, 2015 by

In 284 St. Elian, a physician, refused to renounce Christianity and was killed by his father. The site of his death in Homs, Syria soon became a locus of miracles and devotion, and a Church was was raised there in the late 5th century. A stone sarcophagus was built in side chapel to house his remains. A monastery grew at the location.

Some time this month, all of that history and devotion was ground into dust by barbarians. ISIS has released photos (and possibly a video, though I haven’t been able to find it) that show them destroying the site. They allegedly smashed their way into St. Elian’s tomb, then brought in heavy machinery to do the rest.

There are pictures circulating showing uncovered bones. Some are saying these are the bones of St. Elian, but I don’t think they are. It’s unclear at this moment what became of St. Elian’s remains, but from the reports I’m reading it appears that the entire site was bulldozed. That would include the tomb, the church, the remains, and the frescos uncovered during restorations:

Frescos_in_Saint_Elian_Church_-_Hims,_Syria

Some videos online claim to show the destruction, but they appear to show a different site. Right now, it’s all very sketchy, with only a few pictures in ISIS Twitter accounts and scattered reports. The media is filling in the scant details with a lot of speculation, so I’ve tried to sift it all as well as possible.

Worse than the loss to history is the human loss: Father Jacques Mouraud was kidnapped in the area on May 21st and is still missing. Fr. Mourad was the abbot of St. Elian, and had been working since 1991 to rebuild and restore the site.

Revelation of the destruction follows news earlier this week of the torture and beheading of leading Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad. al-Asaad had worked excavating and preserving the site of Palmyra for 40 years, and some called him the Howard Carter of Syria. Reports vary as to whether the 82-year-old was killed for collaboration and idolatry (including appearances at archaeology conferences with infidels), or because he refused to disclose the location of treasure, which ISIS imagined he was hiding somewhere in the ruins.  al-Asaad had made important discoveries at the ancient site, and was an expert in Aramaic. Please pray for the repose of his soul.

Read more from the source & comments: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godandthemachine/2015/08/isis-desecrates-saints-remains-bulldozes-monastery-priest-still-missing/

Islamic State destroys ancient Catholic monastery in Syria

.- Reports surfaced on Thursday that Islamic State militants have bulldozed Mar Elian Monastery, an ancient structure located just outside a Syrian town captured by the group earlier this month.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, on Aug. 20 said that the Islamic State had destroyed the monastery using bulldozers. Photos of the destruction were soon released online by the militant Sunni Islamist group.

The destruction was confirmed to the AP by a priest in Damascus.

Mar Elian monastery, which was founded before the year 500, is located just outside Al Quaryatayn, which is some 60 miles southeast of Homs. The monastery also provided refuge to hundreds of Syrians displaced from Al Quaryatayn, and partnered with Muslim donors to provide for their needs.

The town was captured by the Islamic State Aug. 6, and between 160 and 230 Christians and Muslims were abducted from the town.

Many of the Christians who were in Al Quaryatayn when it fell to the Islamic State had fled there from Aleppo. Around 30 Christians were able to escape the town for Homs after it was captured.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Islamic State has transported 110 of the captives from Al Quaryatayn to its de facto capital, Ar Raqqah.

In May, two members of Mar Elian’s community had been abducted: Father Jacques Mourad and Deacon Boutros Hanna. Fr. Mourad was prior of Mar Elian, and was pastor of a parish in Al Quaryatayn, where he served as an active mediator between the Syrian army and rebel forces.

The Islamic State has persecuted all non-Sunni persons in its territory – Christians, Yazidis, and even Shia Muslims. It destroys any non-Sunni religious sites, which are regarded as pagan. In addition to churches, it has destroyed Shia mosques and shrines, and the sites of ancient, pre-Islamic cities.

The militant group overran the ancient city of Palmyra in May, and have since destroyed statues and other artefacts there. It was reported Aug. 19 that Islamic State militants had killed Khaled al-Asaad, an 81-year-old archaeologist who curated the ruins at Palmyra.

Since the Syrian civil war broke out in March 2011, more than 230,000 people have been killed. Four million have become refugees, and another 8 million have been internally displaced.

What began as demonstrations against the nation’s Ba’athist president, Bashar al-Assad, has become a complex fight among the Syrian regime; moderate rebels; Kurds; and Islamists, such as al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State.

Read more from the source: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/islamic-state-destroys-ancient-catholic-monastery-in-syria-10841/

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