The Associated Press has released images confirming the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq, St. Elijah’s Monastery, has been reduced to rubble.
It has stood for 1,400 years and has endured many wars, and even more generations of monks who have prayed at its chapel and worshipped at its altar. The Greek letters ‘chi’ and ‘rho’, which represented the first two letters of Christ’s name, were carved in the entrance of the monastery.
ISIS has taken it upon themselves to destroy anything that they consider even remotely contrary to Islam. They brought down the 27,000 square foot historic site and reduced it to rubble.
Imagery analyst Stephen Wood, analyzed the photos and said,
“Bulldozers, heavy equipment, sledgehammers, possibly explosives turned these stone walls into this field of gray-white dust. They destroyed it completely.”
Catholic leaders are appalled at the news and images. Reverend Paul Thabit Habib was almost brought to tears by the sight of it all.
“Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled. We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.”
Chaplain Jeffrey Whorton, who once celebrated Mass on the very altar, was struck with grief:
“Why we treat each other like this is beyond me. Elijah the prophet must be weeping.”
Watch the Fox news report.
The iconic symbol was built in 590 A.D. It faced tragedy in 1743 when 150 monks refused to convert to Islam and were slaughtered by a Persian general. In 2003, a wall was smashed by a tank turret and consequently blown away during battle. Once the U.S. Army had moved into the area, it was vandalized with patriotic symbols and writings. It was immediately after that the U.S. military chaplain at the time recognized it’s importance and moved to preserve the historic site.
“Unfortunately, there is this systemic destruction of precious sites, not only cultural, but also religious and spiritual. It’s very sad and dramatic.”
– Reverend Federico Lombardi