One of the most prized Christian monuments, Our Lady of the Hour Church in Nineveh Province, is being renovated after it was subject to heavy damage during ISIS' occupation of Mosul.
The local government in Nineveh has begun an initiative to rebuild the Our Lady of the Hour Church in the Old City of Mosul. The church, which was built in 1866 by the Catholic group the Dominican Fathers, gets its name from the clock that was gifted to the church by Empress Eugénie de Montijo, the wife of Napoleon III.
The church is considered an important landmark in the heart of the Old City of Mosul, located near the Nouri mosque, another Moslawi landmark. The Nouri Mosque’s minaret, al-Hadbaa, was destroyed by ISIS before the liberation of Mosul last year. This has caused the people of Mosul to call for this church to be preserved as they do not want their city to lose another prominent landmark.
At the request of the citizens, the government in the province of Nineveh launched an initiative, which seeks to preserve and renovate the church’s clock tower. “This Church is a symbol of cultural heritage for people in Mosul,” said a Moslawi citizen. “We have lost the Hadbaa Minaret, and we do not want to lose another landmark such as Our Lady of the Hour Church”.
The main point that some of the citizens stressed is that the renovation of the church will facilitate the return of the city’s Christian residents especially after the improved security situation that the city has seen in recent months.
“We hope and call for the tower’s renovation so that people can come back to their homes, especially the Christians,” said one Moslawi citizen.
The Governor of Nineveh, Mr. Nofal al-Akoub, said that the local government has taken up the responsibility of renovating the church and clearing the debris that was left by ISIS in the church.
During ISIS’ rule, the militant group desecrated the church and converted the main hall into a court that was being used to judge residents, included former Christians who used to use the hall for prayers. However, after liberation, worshippers want their church rebuilt. “Today, we need to preserve what remains, especially this tower, especially since the whole area goes by the clock tower’s name,” said Pastor Thabit Habib, the Church’s caretaker. “Its significance lies in the fact that it remains a memory, a landmark and a feature of the city of Mosul.”