Culture

Christians in Bakhdida revive the Virgin Mary procession in a show of resilience

Iraq

The statue of the Virgin Mary, which was destroyed by ISIS, has finally been restored and returned to Bakhdida (Qaraqosh) in northern Iraq.

Years ago, when ISIS was wreaking havoc in the northern provinces of Iraq, particularly in the Nineveh Province, densely populated by minority communities, the terrorist group entered the Christian-majority town of Bakhdida, also known as Qaraqosh or Hamdaniyah, and demolished a local statue of the Virgin Mary, a meaningful symbol for Christians.

A local resident in Bakhdida has sought to demonstrate the revival of the town and its culture following the expulsion of ISIS from Nineveh Province. Christians were targeted by the ISIS as they did not conform to the totalitarian ideology espoused by the terrorist group. The resurrection of the statue has brought hope and life back to the people of Bakhdida, who lived through dark days under ISIS rule in recent years.

“We thank God, today Bakhdida (Qaraqosh) is celebrating the restoration of the statue of the Virgin Mary in this blessed area. Bakhdida (Qaraqosh) has been liberated but ISIS has impacted this region heavily, especially in this area where there was the largest statue of the Virgin Mary. ISIS militants broke and destroyed this statue and believed that they could break our faith or keep us away from it. They did not know that what they broke was the statue and not the spirit. The Spirit is what remains, it praises and glorifies God, and today, we have rebuilt this statue in this blessed place. We also declare to the world today that we have returned to Bakhdida (Qaraqosh) and we have begun to work again with the blessing of the Virgin Mary and the Church”, mentioned Father Runi Mumika.

The rehabilitation process following the expulsion of ISIS has included Christians all over Nineveh Province. Residents have returned to their towns and villages. For instance, residents of the Christian village of Tesqopa were displaced several times, however the recent period of stability and peace has allowed for them to return home.

Places of worship and religious sites continue to hold significance for the Christian communities in Iraq. Many of those communities have sought to rebuild their sites as a means of restoring local people’s ties to their hometowns and communities.