Qaraqosh – When Pope Francis visits the city of Qaraqosh as part of his visit to Iraq, he will also see the large statue of Mary on the bell tower of the church in the sanctuary “al Tahira” . From the tower of the church, the statue of Mary has recently towered over the profile of the city on the Nineveh plain, which is part of the papal visit planned for March 5 to 8, 2021.
The placement of the statue, which took place on Monday January 11th, is of great symbolic importance and a sign of the rebirth of the Iraqi city in northern Mosul, once inhabited by a large majority of Syrian Catholic Christians and from 2014 to 2016 was under the rule of the self-proclaimed jihadists Islamic State (Daesh).
The complex of the sanctuary of al Tahira with its two churches – one from the 13th century and the new one from the first half of the 20th century – is the most famous place of worship in the city. Also for this reason, the jihadist militiamen of the IS transformed the sanctuary into a military garrison between 2014 and 2016 and also used it as a shooting range and arsenal.
During and after the jihadist occupation, the church was looted and devastated. The restoration, which began some time ago, has now symbolically ended with the placement of the statue of the Virgin on the tower of the sanctuary. The Daesh jihadists, conquered the state of Karakosh from Mosul on the night of August 6th, 2014 and forced tens of thousands of Christian residents of the city to flee.
Most of the Christians who fled Qarakosh have found refuge in the Erbil region and other areas of Iraqi Kurdistan. The liberation of Qaraqush from the jihadist militias took place in October 2016. Since then, the initiatives and appeals aimed at favoring the return of the Christians of Qaraqosh to their homes have not yet achieved the desired results.
Source: Agenzia Fides