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Issue 09 – Lent 2022


Who to Believe?

On Syria.


As I concluded a reporting trip through northeastern Syria two summers ago, a friend asked whether I would like to visit several Syriac Christian villages a bit off the beaten path. He had already directed my travel thus far, and I had mostly finished my work. I agreed, and the next day I found myself speeding off with a designated driver and two young soldiers in the Syriac Military Council.

Wherever we stopped, I got out of the car and asked a few people about local history and current affairs. As we talked, they often offered me thick coffee and processed sweets. Our visits inevitably included a tour of the village’s Syriac Orthodox church. These churches are only used on special occasions since there are rarely enough people around to sustain a weekly Mass. Festivals are held on the feast days of the church’s patron saint, and, of course, weddings and funerals are celebrated there. The village’s cemetery is always in the church garden.

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About the author

Samuel Sweeney