Qaryatayn (Agenzia Fides) – In Quaryatayn, the Syrian city recently returned under Syrian military control, the jihadists of the Islamic State (Daesh) have gone, leaving rubble and devastation in Mar Elian sanctuary, where since the early days of occupation, in August 2015, had brutally desecrated the tomb of the Saint, to erase what even to their eyes represented the heart of the monastic complex. But the relics of Mar Elian, scattered around the tomb of the Saint, are not lost: they can be collected and reassembled.
The news of the recovery of the relics was reported to Agenzia Fides by Father Jacques Murad, the Prior of the monastic community - affiliated to the monastery of Deir Mar Musa in Abashi - which in recent years had revived the ancient Sanctuary of the fifth century, placed on the outskirts of Quaryatayn. Father Jacques Murad was himself taken prisoner by a jihadist commando that on May 21, 2015 had raided the sanctuary and seized him, and was able to regain full freedom only on 11 October.
"In front of all what happened and is happening", remarked Fr. Murad "I prefer to be silent, because now silence appears to me as the most appropriate word". Then, with a few simple words, he expresses the consoling vision of faith with which he and his confreres also experienced this troubled time. "The fact that the relics of Mar Elian are not lost", Fr. Jacques confides to Fides "is for me a great sign: it means that he did not want to leave the monastery and the holy land.
We know that saints are in heaven, and we can always invoke them and ask for their help. I remember that on September 9, the day of the liturgical memorial of Mar Elian, I had celebrated Mass with other Christians in Qaryatayn, while we were under the rule of Daesh. I told them it is not important that the monastery is destroyed, it is not even important that the tomb was destroyed. The important thing is that you bear Mar Elian in your heart, wherever you go, even in Canada, or Europe, because he wants to stay in the hearts of his followers".
Tomorrow, a priest of the Syrian Catholic archeparchy of Homs, along with some monks of Dei Mar Musa, will go to Mar Elian to verify the conditions of the sanctuary. "I asked them", says Father Jacques to Fides "to collect the remains and bring them to Homs to guard them. We know that the old sanctuary was destroyed, the archaeological site was devastated, while the new church and monastery were burned and partly bombed. The life of grace will bloom again around the memory of the saints. It will be a great blessing for our entire Church". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 05/04/2016)