While information is not consistent and the reports are “unconfirmed,” at least in their details, numerous sources, including Vatican diplomats who have been in contact with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch, say that Islamist rebels have taken control of the venerable Monastery of St Thekla in Maaloula, Syria, and have kidnapped a number of nuns, including the Abbess, and possibly set about sacking the monastery, one of the most ancient ones in Christendom. AsiaNews.it has this report.
Various reports can be accessed through the blog Ad Orientem.
Father Charles Baz writes,
“Mother Alexandra, I have been following most of the Arabic news agencies all day, thinking at first it was a rumor, but sadly it is not. Mother Pelagia Sayyaf, a dear friend of our family and to many in the US, is among them. This attack on Ma’aloula seems much worse and ferocious compared to September’s. May God pacify the situation and have these nuns released.”
He also says:
“All the news sources are mentioning only Ma’aloula, Al-Nabak, and Al-Yarbood. These three towns are clustered together and collectively are distant from Saidnaya. The news agency are clear about the fact that this battle, distinct from others, is politico-religious, since Ma’aloula and the rest of the Qalamoun region gives neither the government nor the rebels any strategic edge. Sadly, it is only a religious-motivated aggression. Let us pray for the safety of the nuns and the orphans lest any harm befalls them. Some news agencies are stating that already some nuns have been killed Monday in the Yarbood vicinity. All this has to be verified still, and hopefully not true.”
Please join in prayer for the safety of the Nuns, the soldiers who were guarding the monastery, and all concerned.