The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq, a place of worship for 1,400 years – used even by U.S. troops – has been reduced to rubble by Da’esh (ISIS).
The destruction was confirmed by satellite photos obtained by the Associated Press from the imagery firm DigitalGlobe, and compared with earlier images from the same site, AP wrote Wednesday in an exclusive report.
Built in 590, St. Elijah’s Monastery – called “Dair Mar Elia” in Syriac – stood on a hill above the city of Mosul, Iraq: a 27,000-square-foot stone and mortar fortress with a roof that was partly missing.
It was a place where in 1743 some 150 Christian monks stood firm and gave their lives, rather than bend to the will of Persian leader Tahmaz Nadir Shah who demanded their forcible conversion to Islam.
The building was huge, with 26 rooms, a chapel and a sanctuary.
But no more.
Catholic World Report quoted a post from June 12, 2014 that Christians were being driven out completely from Mosul by the Islamist hordes. The city had just been taken over by ISIS.
For the first time in 1,600 years, no Mass was celebrated in Mosul on Sunday June 15, 2014.
“The Catholic Archbishop of the city, Amil Shamaaoun Nona, corroborated this while speaking with the worldwide Catholic relief service, Aid to the Church in Need. ‘All the faithful have left the city. Who knows whether they will ever be able to return,’ Abp. Nona said.”
In 2003, there were still 35,000 Christians living in Mosul, according to that report. By 2014, there were only 3,000.
“The city of Mosul, with its population of three million, was already mentioned in the Bible as Nineveh, and for thousands of years it has been a place of Christian civilization,” the publication lamented.
U.S. Army chaplain Jeffrey Whorton, a Roman Catholic priest, also celebrated Mass on the monastery’s altar while deployed in Iraq.
Da’esh destroys any and all edifices the group considers to be related to idolatry, in its twisted interpretation of Islam.
More than 100 such sites have been leveled so far, among them the remains of the ancient city of Palmyra, in Syria. Monuments in the cities of Nineveh and Hatra are also ruined. Countless other treasures have been crushed – or stolen and sold to finance Da’esh terrorist attacks.Hana Levi Julian