It has been confirmed that the relics of Syrian St Elian, which originally were thought to have been destroyed by members of the Islamic State militia, have been found amid the rubble of the desecrated Mar Elian Church in Qaryatain, Syria.
The sanctuary was bulldozed in August 2015, according to Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
Fr Jacques Mourad, the prior of the Syriac Catholic monastic community, was kidnapped three months earlier when the terrorists initially raided the church.
Fr Mourad, who was freed on October 11, reported the discovery of the relics to Fides on April 5.
“The fact that the relics of Mar Elian are not lost is for me a great sign: It means that he did not want to leave the monastery and the Holy Land,” the priest said.
The relics of St Elian, a third-century martyr, were discovered after Syrian military forces had retaken control of Qaryatain.
Even while the Islamic State forces controlled the area, however, local Christians preserved their veneration of St. Elian, Fides said.
Fr Mourad had told his flock: “It is not important that the monastery is destroyed, it is not even important that the tomb was destroyed. The important thing is that you bear Mar Elian in your heart, wherever you go, even in Canada, or Europe, because he wants to stay in the hearts of his followers.”
A priest of the Syriac Catholic Archdiocese of Homs and monks from the Mar Musa monastery were set to go to Mar Elian to survey its condition, Fides reported.
Fr Mourad asked that they collect and guard the remains.
“We know that the old sanctuary was destroyed, the archaeological site was devastated, while the new church and monastery were burned and partly bombed,” he said. “The life of grace will bloom again around the memory of the saints. It will be a great blessing for our entire church.”
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund