10 March 2015
An Assyrian woman prays at a church in Damascus on 1 March during a special liturgy for Assyrian Christians abducted by Islamic State fighters. (photo: CNS/Omar Sanadiki, Reuters)
Christian leaders again called for help for Assyrian Christians as Islamic State militants stepped up their attacks against their towns in northern Syria. Catholic News Service reports:
Syria’s northeast Hassake province is emerging as the new battlefield in the fight against the extremist group. Analysts say Hassake province, which extends like a thumb into neighboring Iraq and Turkey, could become the fault line of a new multi-front and lengthy war between Islamic State militants and Christians allied with Kurdish fighters.
“This is a very dangerous situation,” said Bassam Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council of Syria, warning of the major new offensive
on Christian villages along the Khabur River. “The villages on the south side of the river are in the hands of Islamic State militants,” Ishak told CNS. “They took Tal Nasri, which is very close to Tal Tamar,” Ishak explained. Tal Tamar “is at the crossroads of many highways to Aleppo, Syria’s second biggest city; to Qamishli, to Hassake and Ras al Ain.”
The March attacks follow a raid by Islamic State militants on a cluster of villages along the Khabur River on 23 February. More than 220 Assyrian Christians residents and other minorities were abducted then. About 20 Assyrian Christians were later released. Meanwhile, the apostolic nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari, told the Rome-based missionary news agency AsiaNews that Islamic State militants released 52 abducted Assyrian Christian families without ransom payment on 5 and 6 March.
“The 52 families who were held for days by the jihadists” are now safe, the archbishop told AsiaNews 9 March. “The militia still holds 16 people. Half of them are Christians; the other half is made up of Kurds.”
No Assyrian or other organizations reported similar information to confirm the news.
A statement issued by the Syriac National Council of Syria, the European Syriac Union, and the Christian Coalition for Syria said Islamic State militants seized “all villages on the south bank of the Khabur and several villages on the north bank.”
Catholic News Service obtained a copy of the statement, which warned that the extremist group will “try to cross the Khabur with large numbers of fighters and heavy weapons — vastly stronger than the lightly armed self-defense forces of both Christians and Kurds in the area.
Read the rest of the report.
Please continue to keep the people of Syria in your prayers. To learn how you can support them in this time of urgent need, please visit this giving page.
3 March 2015
Tags: Syria Violence against Christians War
Women in India have benefited from numerous initiatives of the village of San Joe Puram, including efforts to improve literacy, sanitation and water access. To learn more, read A Place of Promise — and Providence in the Winter edition of ONE. (photo: John Mathew)
2 March 2015
Tags: India Village life Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Women Women in India
Pope Francis meets Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, third from left, during a private audience at the Vatican on 2 March. During his Sunday Angelus, the pope offered special prayers for the people of Syria and Iraq. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
27 February 2015
Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis
A symbol of prosperity, fertility and happiness, the pomegranate is one of the most important foods in Armenian culture, and a common theme across Armenian artwork of all kinds — such as these vases, pictured in a pottery and ceramics studio in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. To learn more about Armenians in Jerusalem, read ‘Living Here Is Complicated’ from the Winter 2014 issue of ONE. For more on cultural significance of pomegranates, click to read about A Fruitful Trade. (photo: Ilene Perlman)
26 February 2015
Tags: Jerusalem Cultural Identity Armenia Farming/Agriculture
Samundar Singh, left, pays tribute at a memorial ceremony for Sister Rani Maria Vattalil, whom he stabbed to death in 1995. Flanking Mr. Singh are Sister Selmi Paul and Stephen Vattalil, siblings of Sister Rani, who have offered him forgiveness. (photo: M.L. Thomas)
On 25 February 1995, while riding a bus in central India, Samundar Singh stabbed Franciscan Clarist Sister Rani Maria Vattalil over 50 times in plain view of 60 passengers. Mr. Singh was tried and sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life in prison. While serving his sentence, Sister Selmi Paul, F.C.C., his victim’s sister, visited Mr. Singh, forgiving him and calling him “brother.” Profoundly touched by this gesture, Mr. Singh repented and converted to Christianity. After 11 years in prison, Mr. Singh was released as a result of the petition signed by Sister Rani’s family, the provincial of the Clarist Congregation and the bishop of Indore, offering their forgiveness in a powerful message of Christian love.
Yesterday, Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, led a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of Sister Rani’s death. Samundar Singh attended, praising Indian Christians as “India’s hope,” remarks all the more relevant in light of recent Hindu fundamentalist attacks on Christians.
Sister Rani Maria received the title, “servant of God,” in 2007. The cause for her beatification and sainthood is being considered.
25 February 2015
Tags: India Violence against Christians Sisters Indian Christians Reflections/Inspirational
Glass-like works made from colorful powders, the art of cloisonné enamel originated in the eastern Mediterranean region and developed in the Byzantine Empire — and, some scholars argue, Georgia, where it is known as minankari. To learn about its revival in Georgia, and how the church is using it to improve the lives of Georgian youth, read Crafting a Future from the Winter 2014 issue of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)
24 February 2015
Tags: Georgia Art Georgian Orthodox Church Caritas Youth
A Syrian child refugee from Hassake plays near his temporary home in Bechouat, Lebanon. Sources now report that the Islamic State has kidnapped some 90 Christians in Hassake. To lend your support to children in Syria whose lives have been upended by violence, please click here. (photo: Tamara Hadi)
23 February 2015
Armenian Apostolic sisters garden outside the seventh-century St. Gayane Church in Etchmiadzin. (photo: Armineh Johannes)
St. Gregory of Narek, born in the year 951, is an important figure in the traditions of both the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches — “priest and poet, theologian and philosopher, monk and mystic.”
Earlier today, Pope Francis declared St. Gregory a doctor of the church. (For an explanation of this honor, click here.)
In the Autumn 2013 issue of ONE, Michael La Civita wrote about this saint’s life and works:
Few details of Gregory’s life are known, but hints of the man’s years of pain and suffering suffuse his writings, particularly his Book of Lamentations. Written in the waning years of the first Christian millennium, Lamentations is considered by scholars a metaphor for the preparation and celebration of the Divine Liturgy — an “edifice of faith,” to use the poet’s words.
The 95 Lamentations are grouped together, mirroring the different stages of the liturgy, from the dismissal of the catechumens, the profession of faith and communion to the final prayers in preparation of death and judgment.
For the entire piece — complete with an excerpt from St. Gregory’s Book of Lamentations — click here, or read Staying Power, from the Autumn 2013 issue of ONE.
20 February 2015
Tags: Armenia Armenian Apostolic Church Prayers/Hymns/Saints Saints Monasticism
In this photo from the Winter edition of ONE, students pray at the Sts. Tarkmanchatz Armenian School in the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. To learn more about the school and the Armenian community, read “A Beacon of Hope in Jerusalem” in the current edition of ONE.
(photo: Ilene Perlman)
19 February 2015
Sonu Augustine plays with his daughter Nidhika in the yard of their home. (photo: Don Duncan)
The Winter edition of ONE features an interview with Sonu Augustine, who grew up in Kerala, India, but now lives with his family in Qatar. He is one of an estimated 400,000 Syro-Malabar Catholics in the Persian Gulf region. In his conversation with reporter Don Duncan, he discusses the challenges of faith and culture in the Persian Gulf:
ONE: Does your existence far from the core of the Syro-Malabar Church make it harder for you to transfer your traditions to your children?
SA: We have to work assiduously to make sure that the children are growing up in our faith. Growing up in India means that there is a communal family structure. Grandparents live with the family, brothers and sisters are always nearby, and there are Christian neighbors and a parish with activities of all types. In Qatar, however, it is much different. Even if I go regularly to church here, Syro-Malabar Catholics do not have adequate access to services in our tradition in the Gulf. The children miss out.
ONE: So you have attended the Latin-rite Mass for want of the Divine Liturgy in the Syro-Malabar’s tradition?
SA: For a starving man, whatever food he gets is good food. When he has options, he will opt for the best food. It was a situation like that when I first got here.
Read the full interview here.