As reported earlier today by the Associated Press, the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been totally destroyed by the terrorist organization, ISIS and there is now only a field of rubble where a magnificent ancient cultural site once stood. For 1,400 years the Christian Monastery survived all assaults by nature and man, and was place of worship for Christians in Iraq. In earlier centuries, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches and prayed in the cool chapel. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ’s name, were carved near the entrance as reported and evidenced by looking at photographs that are now the only reminder of that beautiful site.
The most recent satellite photos obtained exclusively by The Associated Press confirm the worst fears of church authorities and preservationists that St. Elijah’s Monastery of Mosul has been completely destroyed.
This is not the first time that the terrorist Islamic group, which has killed thousands of civilians and forced out hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and towns has also destroyed places of worship for not just Christians, but also Moslems. Along the way, its fighters have destroyed buildings and ruined historical and culturally significant structures they consider contrary to their interpretation of Islam.
Those who knew the monastery wondered about its fate after the extremists swept through in June 2014 and largely cut communications to the area. Now, St. Elijah’s has joined a growing list of more than 100 demolished religious and historic sites, including mosques, tombs, shrines and churches in Syria and Iraq. The extremists have defaced or ruined ancient monuments in Nineveh, Palmyra and Hatra. Museums and libraries have been looted, books burned, artwork crushed or trafficked and sold in the black market.