Preparations for Pope Francis' visit to Iraq are in full swing

Preparations for Pope Francis' visit to Iraq are in full swing

Shafaq News / Nineveh is preparing for the Pope Francis' visit.

During his upcoming visit to Iraq, the Supreme Pontiff will visit Nineveh in which one of its main stops and in Old Mosul is "Hosh Al-Bayaa".

Hosh Al-Bayaa includes four well-known churches, including the Church of Our Lady of the Hour, popularly known as Al-Saa´a (“Clock”), the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and the Al-Tahera Church.

UNESCO started reconstruction of the Syriac Catholic Al-Tahera Church in Mosulthat was severely damaged in 2017. More than a church, Al Tahera is a symbol of the diversity that has been the story of Mosul for centuries.

The reconstruction work is quite complex as large parts of its arcades were destroyed, as well as its external walls.

Father Raed Adel told Shafaq News Agency that, “The Vatican is the one who chose this church to be reconstructed.”

"The Pope’s visit means peace, he is a symbol of peace, and people are optimistic about this visit," he said.

Adel said, the number of Christian’s families who returned to Mosul does not exceed 60 families, while hundreds of families returned to the areas of the Nineveh Plain. As for those who remain outside their homes, either they immigrated to other countries or still living in the Kurdistan Region.

He pointed out that "Nineveh Governorate has formed a committee headed by the mayor of Mosul to prepare for the Pope's visit.”

The city of Mosul, meaning “the linking point" in Arabic, is one of the oldest cities in the world. For millennia, it has been a strategic crossing and a bridge between north and south, east and west. Due to its strategic location, it became home to a large number of people from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and religious beliefs.

However, this unique location also made it a target for ISIS. In 2014, IT took the city and declared it its capital. Three devastating years (2014-2017) of occupation passed before the shackles of violent extremism could be broken.

During those three years, various battles took place, leaving Mosul in ruins, its heritage sites reduced to rubble, religious monuments and cultural antiquities damaged, and thousands of its inhabitants displaced, leaving them scarred and with immense humanitarian needs.

The trip by the 84-year-old leader of the world’s Catholics was announced in December, and will take in the capital Baghdad, as well as Ur, a city linked to the Old Testament figure of Abraham, and Erbil, Mosul and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh.

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