As the people of Basra in the south of Iraq suffer from poor economic conditions, the Christians of northern Iraq offer their prayers to them.
Christians from the city of Mosul celebrated the Feast of the Cross on the 14th September in the Mar Benham Monastery near Bakhdida. The tomb of Mar Benham was destroyed on March 19, 2015 by ISIS and the exterior murals were desecrated by the militants. The monastery is one of the oldest in the region and is considered one of the main places of worship for the Christians in Iraq.
The monastery was eventually liberated in November 2016 during operations by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to liberate Mosul and the rest of Nineveh from ISIS’ tyranny. Since then, the Mar Benham monastery has undergone significant restoration and is now, once again, being used by the people of Bakhdida for significant religious occasions such as this.
During commemorations for the Feast of the Cross, worshippers took time to pray for and remember the suffering of others around the world as well as their fellow compatriots in the province of Basra, who have been protesting for weeks over the lack water, electricity and other vital public services.
“Today, Christians all over the world celebrate the Holy Cross Day. Today, we pray for peace and security for the whole world, and especially in our wounded country, Iraq. We have recalled our brothers and sisters in the beloved city of Basra,” said Father Aghnatious Awfi, the priest leading the ceremony.
The situation in Basra remains dire, with hundreds of residents lacking sufficient supplies of clean drinking water. The situation has caused a health crisis, with the Iraqi Ministry of Health revealing that over 60,000 people have so far contracted illnesses from unclean water.
Those who attended the commemorations in the Mar Benham monastery emphasised the importance of national unity and called on the Iraqi central government and the relevant authorities to address the issues faced by so many people in the province of Basra.