Aid & Development

The bells of the St George church ring again in Nineveh after ISIS

Iraq

Iraqi Christians are now able to go to the St George Church in Bartella, east of Mosul, after its restoration. The Church found in the Nineveh Plains is considered one of the first to be reconstructed after the area was liberated from ISIS in 2017.

In the area of Bartella, east of Mosul, the Syriac Church of St. Georges has begun welcoming worshippers within its walls after being desecrated by ISIS in August 2014. The worshippers were prevented from going to the church for over four years after ISIS destroyed the church’s bells, statues, and crosses. However, with the aid of international organisations, the Church of St. George has been rebuilt, one year after the Nineveh Plains were liberated from ISIS. The St. George Church is considered the first churches to be fully reconstructed.

“The damages that were inflicted upon the Church have been restored, it has been cleared of all the ruins and it has returned to its previous grandeur. It is ready for the performance of prayers and the praising of our Lord,” says Botros Moshe, the Syriac Archbishop of Mosul, Kirkuk, and Kurdistan. “We are very glad that we have managed to set this scene for our children.”

In order to remind future generations of the damage that the church faces, the church has created a museum which exhibits images of the destruction, and the belongings of the church which were desecrated by ISIS.

The reopening ceremony saw Iraqis of all backgrounds joining their fellow Christian worshippers in an attempt to showcase unity and peace amongst the residents of the Nineveh Plains.

“We sow hope and reap happiness, we hope that all of our churches and mosques and all of our civilisational landmarks are restored so that we may prove [to the world] that our nation loves life,” says Bishop Jerjis al-Qis Musa, the former bishop of Mosul.

The rebuilding of the Christian town of Bartella has encouraged many of its former residents to return to their homes. According to a Christian figure in the area, 1000 of the areas 3000 families have returned to Bartella so far, with hope of more returning over time.

“We hope for the revival of security and peace and that all of the areas are restored and reconstructed, and we hope for unity,” says one of the residents.

The efforts to reconstruct and protects the houses of worship for minority communities is a crucial step for Iraq in order to regain important landmarks in its cultural heritage.