In the Syrian Old Homs, "Eleven Christian churches are either completely destroyed or heavily damaged," related a local priest named George Abu Zahem to the Lebanese The Daily Star newspaper.
He has described the situation in the al-Hamidiyah Christian quarter as disastrous. According to the priest, the churches were robbed and desecrated by militants.
"A true miracle happened at Holy Martyr Elian's Orthodox Church in Homs (6th century). The gunmen set it on fire. However, the fire did not touch the ancient icons on the walls—they just slightly darkened," the priest said.
The thick walls have saved the Cathedral of Holy Theotokos, the "calling card" of Old Homs, where is the city's main relic—a small portion of the Girdle of the Mother of God.
On May 7, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, left for the Vatican on a fraternal visit. On May 8, in the Apostolic Palace, His Holiness met with His Holiness Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome and Leader of the Catholic Church.
Present at the meeting were His Eminence Archbishop Gisak Muradyan, Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Argentine; His Eminence Archbishop Khajak Barsamyan, Primate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church o North America; His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manoukian, Director of the Inter- Church Relations Department of the Mother See and Primate of the Artik Diocese; Rev. Fr. Anania Tsaturyan, Staff-Bearer of His Holiness Karekin II; Rev. Fr. Tovma Khachatryan, Spiritual Pastor of the Armenian Diocese in Italy; Rev. Fr. Vahram Melikyan, Director of the Information Services Department of the Mother See; and Mr. Michael Minasyan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Armenia to the Holy See.
There is an attempt afoot to revive the religious tourism in Egypt. The pilot tour of the new route, "On the trail of the Holy Family" is scheduled for June this year.
The excursion is being worked out under the auspices of rectors of Christian churches and abbots of monasteries, reports the website of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society.
The itinerary includes visits to the sites in Cairo, the Al-Minya governorate and further to the south, where, according to the tradition, the Virgin Mary with Joseph and the Infant Jesus took refuge from the pursuit. The tour finishes in Asyut, at the Monastery of St. Mary the Virgin. For safety reasons, a trip to the North Sinai governorate (where sites associated with the Holy Family's sojourn have survived as well), was excluded from the itinerary.
The current Turkish prime-minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is considering the possibility of Muslim prayer at Hagia Sophia Church in Istanbul (Constantinople), reports Romphea. Erdogan is planning to participate in a namaz at the historic Hagia Sophia Church in Constantinople, reports the Radikal Turkish daily newspaper. The Muslim prayer will probably be performed during the annual celebrations of the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453, just before the August elections, when Erdogan wants to retake his office of prime-minister.
Fifteen years after NATO bombings and many ensuing conflicts in Kosovo, poverty and isolation continue to be a challenge for the thousands of families returning to their homes in the region's non-majority communities.
IOCC has maintained a humanitarian presence in the region since 1998, and is continuing its work through ongoing initiatives to help these vulnerable families improve their farming techniques, raise their household incomes, and improve the learning environment for their children.
The Arab American National Museum is currently featuring an exhibit entitled, Sacred Scenes: Icons of the Orthodox Church, reports the Dearborn Press and Guide. The exhibit features the work of relgious icon artist Vlasios Tsotsonis.
Visitors will see several original, large-scale pieces by the artist, both paintings and mosaics/marquetry, as well as a series of works on clear acrylic depicting Angels of Peace. Most of the acrylic pieces on display comprised an important presentation of Greek culture at the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens, while others were created for use in chapels and at home.