Maaloula nuns released: “an olive branch in the midst of a flood”
DAMASCUS – On Sunday, March 9, after three months of captivity, 13 Syrian and Lebanese nuns and their three aids kidnapped in Syria were liberated. A humanitarian gesture which is also a sign of hope for the other hostages held in the region.
The nuns are from the Monastery of St. Thecla, located in the village of Maaloula, some 50 km north west of Damascus, and were in charge of an orphanage.
The nuns were released on Sunday at the Lebanese borders. They arrived in Damascus on Monday, after a nine-hour trip, and were welcomed by religious authorities.
They had been detained for three months in the hills of Qalamun area by “Jabhat al-Nosra”, an Islamist militia, which fights the Syrian regime. In exchange, the regime set free 150 militant anti-government women, held in the prisons of Damascus.
The Superior, Mother Pelagia Sayaf, expressed her feelings in these terms: “we missed nothing (…) God has not abandoned us”.
As a humanitarian gesture in the midst of so many sufferings and violence, this release is “a sign of optimism, as was the olive branch in the midst of the flood” underlines Bishop Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem.
It is also a sign of hope for the release, long overdue, of other hostages, among whom are two Bishops of Aleppo, Boulos Yazigi, Greek Orthodox, and Gregorios Yuhanna Ibrahim, Syrian Orthodox.