Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Aphrem II inaugurates Shrine of the Virgin Mary’s Holy Girdle in Umm al-Zinar Cathedral in Hmoth, Syria

HMOTH, Syria — On Sunday, in the presence of clergymen and a large gathering of believers, Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II inaugurated the Shrine of the Virgin Mary’s Holy Girdle at Umm al-Zinar Cathedral in Hmoth (Homs), Syria. During the inauguration, he affirmed the spiritual and historical greatness of the same cathedral and its relic.

Both Christians and Muslims visit the cathedral from around the world seeking the intercession of the Virgin Mary.

The Patriarch performed a Prayer for the Virgin, asking for her intercession and blessing, after which memorial shields were distributed.

On Monday morning, the Patriarch held a Divine Liturgy in Umm al-Zinar Cathedral on the Feast of our Lady. He touched on the importance of this blessed feast during which the Virgin Mary was moved to heaven, and asked for her intercession to end the wars and crises plaguing the world and bring peace to all.

Following the liturgy, grapes were distributed to the faithful as a blessing to carry to their homes.

The current building dates from the middle of the nineteenth century, although the cathedral’s location is thought to have been a place of Christian worship since 59 AD.

The revered Holy Girdle, which is said to be a portion of the belt of Mary, mother of Jesus, is kept in the cathedral. During clashes between the security forces and the armed opposition groups, the cathedral sustained damage in 2012.