After five months of fighting, the Battle for Mosul rages on. Iraqi forces are pushing further west into the city and recovering more territory once occupied by the so-called Islamic State.
Last week, advocacy group This is Christian Iraq posted a video to their Facebook page of Iraqi soldiers from the Babylonian Brigade restoring and venerating a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that was smashed by ISIS.
While the soldiers cannot fully restore the statue, they prop Mary upright as much as possible, and sing and pray for her intercession. Several of the soldiers venerate the statue by kissing her feet.
The statue of Mary was found in the destroyed Mar Behnam monastery in south east Mosul. ISIS allegedly blew up the 4th century Syriac Catholic monastery two years ago, in March 2015. The monks had been expelled by ISIS in summer 2014, told to leave immediately and not allowed to gather any of the monastery’s relics to take with them. The monastery was built on the tomb of St. Berhnam and his sister Sarah, who were converted to Christianity by St Matthew.
The group This is Christian Iraq has regularly been posting photos and videos of Christians taking back churches and property that had been captured and ransacked by ISIS.
However, despite recent gains, there are still concerns for the civilians caught in the Battle of Mosul. Thousands are trapped in ISIS-held territory, and 50,000 have fled the city in the past two weeks, according to reports from the BBC.
Let’s continue our prayers for Christians and for all persecuted people in the Middle East.