Syriac Catholic Patriarchate in Nineveh: Relic containing fragment of the Cross stolen by ISIS still missing

BAGHDEDE, Iraq — The crimes of the Islamic State (ISIS) against Christian peoples continues to be felt in Nineveh Plains. Churches were not only destroyed but were robbed of their contents. While the churches can be rebuilt, it is unlikely the religious artifacts, treasures, and cultural heritage lost will be recovered.

In an interview with the Iraqi News Agency, Secretary of the Syriac Catholic Patriarchate in Nineveh, Father Naroni Momika, discussed the thefts of the contents of the Church of St. Mary al-Thira in Baghdede. The Church of St. Mary is the largest church in the region and was used as an ISIS headquarters, said Father Momika.

The church dates back to the 4th century AD.

The cross of the church, which includes a piece of the Cross on which Jesus was crucified, was stolen and has not been found, said Father Momika. Also taken were a hand-written bible and a fumes dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries AD.

Father Momika pointed out that there is great cooperation between the local administration and the church in reconstruction, but the relics and artifacts are irreplaceable.