Rejoicing at Release of Captive Nuns
On the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 9, 2014, multiple media outlets including a leading newspaper in Lebanon, The Daily Star, reported that the thirteen nuns held in captivity by Syrian rebels for over three months were freed late in the day, as a result of Lebanese and Qatari mediation. Officers from Lebanon's General Security received the nuns on the outskirts of the Lebanese town of Arsal.
Parishioners and clergy at the Archdiocese's mother cathedral, St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Brooklyn, NY, received the joyous news during the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy in which Bishop Nicholas was presiding. "We learned of the release just prior to commencing Holy Communion, and began ringing the bells of the Cathedral loudly, chanting 'O Lord, save Thy people' and 'To Thee the Champion Leader,'" says Archpriest Thomas Zain, Vicar-General of the Antiochian Archdiocese. An English translation of a statement from His Beatitude John X, Patriarch of Antioch, is being prepared by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.
"Congratulations. The nuns are now in the custody of General Security and are on their way to Jdaidet Yabouss," General Security chief Major General Abbas Ibrahim announced, while accompanied by Hussein Makhlouf, the governor of rural Damascus. The nuns were kidnapped in early December from the ancient Monastery of St. Thecla (Mar Taqla) in Maaloula, a city north of Damascus that has been the scene of fierce fighting during Syria's civil war.
Ancient Faith Radio announced the release with audio coverage from Kevin Allen, here.
The Archdiocese collection of Syria articles is available here.