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Children in Maaloula in Syria are given …

Children in Maaloula in Syria are given Christmas presents from Russia

On 22nd December 2021, just before the feast of Christ’s Nativity, which the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch celebrates according to the new calendar, the Christian city of Maaloula in Syria was visited by a parliamentary delegation fr om Russia.

Throughout the trip the guests were accompanied by members of the People’s Council of the Arab Republic of Syria and representatives of the Moscow city government. Members of the deputies’ group of the State Duma of the Russian Federation for relations with the Syrian parliament visited the city school wh ere almost 240 local children had gathered. The children performed Christmas songs and greeted guests in their native Aramaic language in Maaloula, the language which Christ himself spoke.

The Russian parliamentarians presented as gifts to the nursery school educational games, toys and sports equipment and to the secondary school notebooks, printers and other stationary equipment donated by the Moscow city government.

The small children of Maaloula were given presents of sweets which had been collected by the parishioners of the Moscow Church of the Resurrection ‘na Uspenskom vrazhke.’

The guests visited the convent of St. Thecla, restored with aid from Russia after its destruction by gunmen and venerated the holy shrines of the convent. In 2014 the city of Maaloula had been taken by gunmen and for more than a year and a half was under their authority. The convent’s inmates and the mother superior had been taken hostage, but later they were freed.

Archimandrite Matthew (Rizk), who carries out his obedience in the convent, handed out the presents with the guests. He thanked warmly Russia and the Russian Church for the presents, emphasizing that Russians were always welcome in Syria and should feel themselves at home there.

The coordinator of the deputies’ group Dmitry Sablin noted that Maaloula was in the hearts of every Orthodox Christian. He said that real aid for the restoration of church buildings and for supporting the civilian population would be continued.

The guests congratulated mother superior Mariam, who had been held captive by terrorists, on the forthcoming feast of Christ’s Nativity.

The members of the Russian delegation laid flowers at the memorial to the people of Maaloula who had been killed by gunmen for their refusal to renounce Christ and to those who had fallen during the liberation of the city.

Now, after the restoration of the convent, with the support of the Russian Boevoye Bratstvo veterans’ organization, work has begun on setting up a museum of the convent of St. Thecla, which was founded in the fourth century.

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