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Sub Tuum praesidium confugimus…”beneath your mantle we take refuge…”

During this month of May the whole Church turns to Our Lady.  We honor her, we bring her flowers, we sing to her, we recall her maternal care for us.  She accompanies the faithful in great occasions: First Communions, graduations, ordinations…even in wartime.

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Cathedral in Aleppo, Adoration during the Month of May

In Syria, our missionaries and the faithful whom they serve also celebrate May with Mary.  Arab Christians are known for their strong devotion to the Mother of the Lord from earliest times of the Church.  But this May — as over the past five years of the war — is especially mixed with violence and sorrow.

As fellow disciples of Christ and mutual parts of the Body of Christ, the Church, we have a duty to know about and to pray for the sufferings of Christians in the Middle East.

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Servidoras with a Syrian Catholic family of our parish

Listed here are recent articles as well as archived articles from our IVE priests and sisters in Gaza, Baghdad, and Aleppo.  Some are only available in Spanish, while others are in English.  All of them (regardless of language) include powerful images which speak to us of destruction and yet Christian hope and joy.

“News from Syria, May 1, 2016” (Noticias de Siria 1 de mayo 2016), posted May 6, 2016
Among the female Christian university students who are in residence with our sisters in Aleppo, many of them are Orthodox: Syrian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, etc.  In the old Julian calendar still in use by the Orthodox Churches, Easter fell on May 1st this year.  Our sisters worked hard to celebrate the Resurrection with these young women despite the fact that the bombing was so bad that weekend that they could not attend any of the Triduum services in their parishes.

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“I run to your Maternal Heart” (Recurro a tu corazón de Madre), posted May 9, 2016
A woman of our parish received news from her son that her husband had been hit by a missal and was on his way to a local hospital.  In the midst of this sorrow and pain she asked to come to the Church to pray before the image of the Virgin Mary.  “I need to go where She is, She is MY mother.”  Side by side with her two adult sons she prayed “Mother, do not leave me, help me, with you is the Truth, the Life, the Good, the Holy, I run to your heart of a Mother…You are MY mother.  Do not abandon us, protect us, protect my sons, protect my husband.”  After this, the three took a seat to wait for the return of the father in peace.

“News from Syria, May 3, 2016” (Noticias de Siria 3 de mayo 2016), posted May 7, 2016
The missionaries describe the daily experience of increased bombing in all the neighborhoods of Aleppo, and share photos from the convent window.

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Aleppo

“Aleppo is Bleeding” (Alepo se desangra…), posted May 13, 2016
This post includes images and first-hand accounts of the bloodshed in Aleppo written by Mother María de Nazaret, SSVM on May 6, 2016.  Unlike wars of the past, we have immediate news of the conditions on the ground…what is officially reported and what daily people experience.

“The Christians of Syria and Iraq feel abandoned by the Church in the West,” («Los cristianos de Siria e Irak se sienten abandonados por la Iglesia de Occidente»), posted May 14, 2016
Fr. Rodrigo Miranda, IVE, a priest in Syria, was interviewed in ABC, a newspaper in Spain.  He calls on the whole Church to turn a gaze towards the out-right persecution and extermination of Christians in the Middle East, since “peace begins in the home”–the Church as a family knowing and praying for each other.

Video interview with Sr. Maria Guadalupe Rodrigo, SSVM, one of our missionary sisters, about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East in Spanish with English subtitles.

Various Articles from our Missionaries in the Middle East in English:

20th Anniversary of the Foundation of the SSVM in the Middle East,” posted February 16, 2016

I want to die in Iraq, posted February 12, 2016

New web page with audios of the Mass in Arabic,” posted February 11, 2015

Audience with Pope Francis,”posted November 29, 2014
Fr. Jorge Cortés, IVE missionary in Iraq, was received, together with Fr. Carlos Walker, Superior General of the IVE, in a private audience by the Holy Father on Saturday, November 15th.

What does it mean to be a missionary in Syria today?posted November 20, 2014

Mom, have the doves returned? September 17, 2014

Chronicle of the interview with His Holiness Pope Francis, posted September 12, 2014
Fr. Jorge Hernández, IVE, parish priest in Gaza, was called to Rome following a period of heavy bombing in order to report directly to Pope Francis about the conditions of the Catholics and all those affected by the violence there.

In the News: Our Missionary Sisters in Gaza and Syria,” May 12, 2014

You are crazy! What are you doing here?… Missionaries in Baghdad, posted December 30, 2013

Silent Victims of the War: The Elderly,” posted November 30, 2013

How are we? – News from Baghdad, posted November 13, 2013

Let us remember our Christian brothers and sisters who belong to “the household of God” in their sufferings, and pray for an end to the violence which is tearing apart the entire region.  Our Lady of Peace, pray for all of us!