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06/23/2022 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – The Islamic State, during its rampage in Iraq, ravaged many Christian historical sites. Among these sites was the Syriac Orthodox Mar Thomas Church in Mosul. Recently, however, archeological workers restoring this church discovered some one dozen ancient relics and parchments connected to several saints. Reportedly, the relics included manuscripts in Syriac and Aramaic and six stone containers wrought with Aramaic inscriptions. Some relics found in the church relate to Saint Theodore, Saint Simon, Mor Gabriel, Saint Simeon, and other well-known figures.

The Syriac Orthodox Mar Thomas Church dates back to the 7th century CE and is thought to have been built on the site where the Apostle Thomas lived in Mosul. The conflict against the Islamic State was not the first time the church has seen the carnage of war in its extensive history. Significantly, the church was damaged by the Persians and the Ottoman Empire in an 18th-century conflict; the damage was so extensive that the church needed to be essentially rebuilt. The current effort to repair the damage done by ISIS in the battle of Mosul over four years ago began last year in 2021. The International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas, collaborating with the Iraqi government, put $328,000 towards the project.

The discovery of the hidden relics at this church is another encouraging development in the broad effort to restore and protect Christian cultural heritage in Iraq after the damage done by the Islamic State. Other ongoing efforts to renovate historical sites in Iraq include UNESCO’s restoration plan, “Reviving the Spirit of Mosul,” which has allocated over $100 million towards restoration projects. Perhaps workers will uncover more undiscovered pieces of history as they sort through the archeological remains of Christianity’s long history in Iraq.

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