Syria – September 2011, Part 5

I promise: I’ll get to my visit with the President of Syria; but first, the final post of some other stuff.

I was part of a delegation that traveled to Syria September 13 – 18th on a fact finding mission, especially regarding the 3 million Christians in that country.

Parts One, Two, Three, Four.

Another one of those traditional homes converted to a nice restaurant.

In the Jewish quarter, a Synagogue.

Here, Fr Pat prayed, I believe, Psalm 8 (in Hebrew).

I stuck my daughter’s camera up against the windows …

for a snap or two.

The Damascus National Museum of History kept our delegation intrigued on the morning of Friday, September 16th.

You never know what you will find in such places …

some things are old, some are new — some are 42.

Ma’alula. Flag on one hill …

crosses on the other.

Now … enlarge this pic and check out the Beast of Burden helping to haul gravel!

Heading up the monastery steps to visit the shrine which houses the relics of St Thekla.

See the figure of Christ up at the top of the stairs (see below — and last year).

Inside the temple at Ma’alula.

Fr John exits the shrine to St Thekla; pilgrims must remove their shoes.

A local priest asked his beautiful daughter to sing the Apolytikion of the Feast for us. We were all nearly moved to tears.

Inside the salon, as in most salons in parishes and monasteries in Syria: images of leaders, spiritual and secular.

Our delegation enjoyed the hospitality of the abbess, Mother Pelagia.

Fr Dimitri and I pause for a pic on our way out. (Is there something on my head? Enlarge the pic and look at him looking at … me?)

The “backside of Our Lord” on exit.

We joined the other pilgrims making their way through the mountain that was split for St Thekla.

After St Thekla … Paradise.

Paradise Restaurant, that is.

Entering the “outdoor” eatery …

to sit beside the flowery garden.

Guaranteed not to leave hungry.

The women’s Monastery at Saydnaya.

The daytime view from that balcony.

The inside view of the temple.

Saydnaya is home to one of the four icons which St Luke painted. I imagine it resembles the one above the throne (above).


Glancing back over my shoulder before heading down to the ground …

where we were serenaded by some gathered teens about God, Syria, and …

well, more on that later.

Next up: The President, the Sheiks, the Grand Mufti, and the Orthodixie Podcast.

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