Pope Francis was presented with the restored liturgical text by a small delegation in the library of the Apostolic Palace a few weeks before his trip to Iraq.
The delegation included the head of the restoration laboratory of ICPAL, Archbishop Luigi Bressan, the retired archbishop of Trento, and the leader of the Federation of Christian Organizations in International Voluntary Service (FOCSIV), the Italian federation of 87 NGOs that helped to ensure the book's safety when it was found in northern Iraq.
Ivana Borsotto, president of FOCSIV, was part of the delegation. She said that the return of the book was symbolic of the return of Christians to their homes after the genocide perpetrated by the Islamic State.
"To bring it home and ensure that Pope Francis could -- in this historic and important journey to this land -- return the Sidra [the prayer book] to the faithful and to its church has a strong symbolic value of the return and recovery of common roots in places where war not only destroyed but tried to eradicate traditions and … erase any trace of remembrance … of the history of peaceful coexistence of Christianity present for centuries in these places," Borsotto said.
"The work carried out all together to ensure that Sidra returned home is also the expression of the positive role that international cooperation plays in different parts of the world: to promote the development of people, but also to foster cohesion and the growth of territories and communities in order to make populations self-sufficient and autonomous," she added.
"Without books, there is no community and without this, there can be no history of a people and its culture."
Photograph of the Great Al-Tahira Immaculate Conception Church in Bakhdida courtesy of Fr. Georges Jahola. Photos of the manuscript courtesy of Vatican Media/Ufficio Stampa FOCSIV.