SYRIA: Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Aphrem II Commemorates Sayfo Syriac Genocide

DARAMSUQ (DAMASCUS), Syria – On 15th of June, Sayfo Remembrance Day, His Holiness Mor Ignatius Aphrem II celebrated mass in commemoration of the Sayfo martyrs in the St Aphrem monastery of the Syriac Orthodox patriarchate in Maarat Sayidnaya, Daramsuq (Damascus). The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch has recognized the 15th of June as an official day of Sayfo remembrance and the day is also included in the church calendar.

According to the official Syriac Patriarchate website His Holiness “spoke about the martyrs of the Syriac Genocide Sayfo, which the church is commemoration on this day every year. He pointed out that the church does not forget those who suffered for the preservation of their faith and who died during the persecutions in order to defend their faith. He encouraged the faithful of the Syriac Orthodox Church to celebrate this commemoration because the martyrs are a good example of preserving the faith at any price, because true love is the sacrifice of one’s self, even to death. His Holiness added that the blood of martyrdom continues to quench the thirst of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ and it yields a blessed harvest, namely a renewed faith in the hearts of the children of the church. This renewed faith leads many to accept the faith.”

The Syriac Orthodox patriarch himself is a descendant of Syriacs from Tur Abdin, in southeast Turkey and one of the Syriac homelands, taking refuge in Syria fleeing persecution, conflict and famines. He was born in Zalin (Qamishli), which was built in the early 1920s by Syriacs fleeing the Sayfo.

In 1924 the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate transferred from the Mor Hananyo Monastery in Tur Abdin to Homs and later to its current location Maarat Sayidnaya, Daramsuq (Damascus).