Pope blesses icon for people of Syria

  • Fionn Shiner and Marta Petrosillo

Pope with the icon and ACN delegation image: ACN/Grzegorz Gakazka

Pope with the icon and ACN delegation image: ACN/Grzegorz Gakazka

Source: Aid to the Church in Need

Pope Francis yesterday (Sunday, 15 September) blessed an icon bound for the people of Syria as part of an initiative by Aid to the Church in Need to enkindle faith and hope in a country shattered by suffering.

The icon of the Our Lady of Sorrows, Consoler of the Syrian People, was blessed by the pontiff at a private ceremony in the Vatican attended

The blessing ceremony took place the same weekend as Christians in towns and cities across Syria received 6,000 rosaries blessed by the Pope a month ago - 15 August, Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

ACN, which is behind the rosary initiative, has prioritised emergency and pastoral support for Syria, completing more than 850 projects since the war began in 2011.

The charity teamed up with Greek Orthodox priest Father Spiradon Kabbash, who created the icon, which will be sent to each of Syria's dioceses, 34 in total, beginning with Damascus, the capital where it will be presented by the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Cardinal Mario Zenari.

Father Kabbash said he had designed the icon as a message of hope. He said: "We will send to many places in the world because they need consolation from God. The war is too heavy for the people."

Speaking after yesterday's papal blessing ceremony, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, President of Aid to the Church in Need (International), said that the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows gives us a lesson in true maternal compassion.

The rosary and icon initiatives came in response to reports that 2,000 Christian families have lost at least one member during the war.

About 800 families have had at least one member abducted during the crisis.



Tags: Aid to the Church in Need, ACN, Syria, Pope Francis, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Father Spiradon Kabbash, Cardinal Mario Zenari

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