Armenian Catholic Cathedral in Aleppo Bombed Hours Before Mass

Bishop Mouradian Provides Details in Weekly Interview

ALEPPO, Syria (A.W.)—Terrorists on Jan. 9 reportedly bombed the Armenian Catholic Cathedral Our Lady of Pity (also known as St. Rita), located next to the Armenian Catholic Archeparchy of Aleppo, leaving the church partly destroyed. No casualties were reported.

Bishop Mikael Mouradian, Armenian Catholic Eparch of the U.S. and Canada, spoke with Aleppo-based Rev. Fr. Krikor Milad, who recounted how the bombing took place at around 5:30 a.m., while everyone slept. The Eparchy windows and doors blew open, as dust rushed in. Father Milad, who stays in the Eparchy building, sprung out of bed and rushed to the church next door to make sure there was no fire. Although part of the dome had collapsed, there were no casualties.

Terrorists reportedly bombed the Armenian Catholic Cathedral Our Lady of Pity on Feb. 9.
Terrorists reportedly bombed the Armenian Catholic Cathedral Our Lady of Pity on Feb. 9.

“If the bombing had taken place just two hours later, the church would have been full of worshippers,” Bishop Mouradian told the Armenian Weekly, noting that a special Mass was going to be held that day at 7 a.m. for Saint Rita, with the participation of the Confraternity of the Church. “God saved them,” he said.

'If the bombing had taken place just two hours later, the church would have been full of worshippers,' Bishop Mouradian told the Armenian Weekly.
‘If the bombing had taken place just two hours later, the church would have been full of worshippers,’ Bishop Mouradian told the Armenian Weekly.

According to an unconfirmed report, the perpetrators are allegedly militants from the Islamic Front’s (Jabhat al-Islamiyya) militia “Harakat ‘Ahrar Al-Sham” (Liberators of the Levant Movement), who fired mortar shells at the cathedral.

Bishop Mouradian noted that this was not the first time that Catholic Church structures have come under attack. The Eparchy and the school had been hit in recent months.

The Cathedral Our Lady of Pity, which is located on Tillel Street, was inaugurated in 1840. The church was restored in 1990. The cathedral’s altar is dedicated to Saint Rita.

The Jan. 9 attack comes four months after the Armenian Genocide Memorial and Church of Der Zor was destroyed by what was believed to be an act by the Islamic State (IS), though that has not been confirmed.

Around 17,000 Catholic Armenians belonged to the Eparchy of Aleppo as of 2008, according to figures provided by the Armenian Catholic Church Patriarchate. However, since the start of the Syrian conflict, many Armenians have left the country.

What is left of the mortar shells fired at the Church
What is left of the mortar shells fired at the Church

The Catholic Armenian community of Aleppo dates back to the early 1700’s, when the first official Armenian Catholic Prelate, the Aintab-born Bishop Abraham Ardzivian, was consecrated as bishop, and then ordained Prelate of Aleppo by Patriarch Ghougas of Sis in the Forty Martyrs Church of Aleppo in 1710. He would later succeed Patriarch Ghougas as Catholicos-Patriarch of Cilicia.

Before the Syrian conflict, the Aleppo Eparchy oversaw nearly 20 churches, seminaries, and convents, as well as 5 schools. It was comprised of six parishes: the Cathedral Our Lady of Pity on Tillel Street in Aleppo; the St. Barbara Church in the Souleymanie neighborhood of Aleppo; the St. Trinity Church in the Midan neighborhood of Aleppo; the Holy Cross Church in the Ourouba neighborhood of Aleppo; the Annunciation Church in Djebel; and the Holy Martyrs Church of Rakka City.

“We pray that the war ends, and that peace returns to people’s lives. War does not solve any problems. Dialogue does,” said Bishop Mouradian.

10

avatar

Nanore Barsoumian

Nanore Barsoumian was the editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2014 to 2016. She served as assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly from 2010 to 2014. Her writings focus on human rights, politics, poverty, and environmental and gender issues. She has reported from Armenia, Nagorno-Karabagh, Javakhk, and Turkey. She earned her B.A. degree in political science and English from the University of Massachusetts (Boston), where she is currently continuing her graduate studies. Email Nanore Barsoumian at writenanore@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter (@NanoreB).

10 Comments

  1. Is the date mentioned in the article, Feb. 9, correct or are we reading a story that is over a year old?

    • The incident did take place on Jan. 9. We have corrected it in the article. Thank you for pointing it out.

  2. Churches have been the shelter of poor and love. Armenians in Syria have been peaceful community who have already suffered for the massacres of Ottomans. It is very sad they are treated like this. I wish that all Christians who live in danger go to the majority Kurdish areas in Syria or to the Iraqi Kurdistan. Christians, especially our Armenian people are welcome.

  3. It is obvious that the Islamist Extremist want all the Christians out of the Middle East, so it’s not surprising what is happening to the Christian communities in Aleppo and for that matter in the whole of the Middle East.We Armenians and other Christians have lived in the Middle East for hundreds of years and it would be shameful if one day there will be no Christians communities living in that area.Pray to God that that will not happen.

  4. Terrorists reportedly bombed the Armenian Catholic Cathedral Our Lady of Pity on Feb. 9.

    Feb. 9

    May want to fix that

  5. Get out now if its not already too late and if there are precious relics in the church if you care at all about them get them out also even if you have to give them to British museum any out of contry museum they will be destroyed if you dont

  6. I am from Aleppo Syria, and I cry for my people. My own house is destroyed in Maydan., I agree to get OUT is the best but where? There is no hope on our County, Armenia. Lebanon has no jobs to offer, housing is VERY expensive. Unless Europe and America open their arms and accepts all christians as asylums.

  7. Our former principal and my former teacher, Sr. Louisa is stationed in Aleppo to help the children there. This is a message she sent to SOAR (Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief) recently: “I am sure you have seen the devastated condition of Syria and especially Aleppo. For more than a month there is NO fuel, NO mazote to heat the houses or schools, NO benzene to run cars, and NO propane and NO electricity, and on top of all this the weather is sub zero and we are freezing. Please keep us in your prayers, and the Lord will keep us safe.”

    I urge you to help. Emergency collections continue for the orphaned Armenian children in Syria. If you would like to assist, please select SOAR-Syria from the PayPal drop down box on http://www.soar-us.org.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*