Mar Touma Church in Mosul, Iraq, reopens six years after ISIS devastation

MOSUL — On Sunday, the sound of the bells ringing at Mar Touma Church in Mosul, Iraq, marked a significant milestone in the city’s recovery from the devastation caused by the Islamic State (ISIS).

Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Mar Benedict Younan Hanno presided over the Divine Liturgy for the inauguration of the rebuilt church, assisted by Father Yasser Atallah and Father Mazen Mutoka.

Syriac Orthodox Archbishop of Mosul and Kerkeslokh (Kirkuk) Mar Nicodemus Daoud Matta Sharaf, Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul and Akre Michael Naguib, Chaldean Archbishop of the Diocese of Mosul and Akre, and French Consul General in Nineveh Jean-Christophe Augé, along with representatives of organizations supporting the reconstruction of the church and a large group of Moslawis from various cities and villages attended the Mass.

During Mass, Father Pius Afas gave a briefing on the history of the church, highlighting its importance and symbolism. He acknowledged the destruction and vandalism committed by ISIS and expressed his gratitude to the humanitarian organizations and donors that contributed to its reconstruction and worked tirelessly to preserve the church’s original character.

For Moslawis attending the festive Mass six years after its destruction by ISIS, the sight of the rebuilt church served as a poignant reminder of the city’s rich history. Established in 1962, the church became a center for intense pastoral activity in the mid-20th century and a hub for the Christian community. The first church built on the site was constructed 1863.

Its founders led a life of poverty and established activities for young people, a famous magazine of Christian thought, a center for Bible studies, a museum, and a library.