Historic Church of the Hour in Mosul, Iraq, holds Mass after years of restoration by UNESCO

MOSUL, Iraq — After a decade of closure due to the destruction wrought by the Islamic State (ISIS), the historic Church of the Hour in Mosul, Iraq, has once again opened its doors to Divine Masses thanks to extensive restoration efforts led by UNESCO.

The Church of the Hour, closed since the ISIS occupation, witnessed an exceptional Mass, marking its symbolic reopening. UNESCO played a pivotal role in the meticulous restoration operations that preceded this momentous occasion.

Presided over by Father Gerard Timonnier, General Superior of the Dominican Order, the ceremonial mass drew the presence of monks and believers alike. The atmosphere resonated with joy as attendees returned to a place of worship that held significance for them before it fell victim to the destructive forces of ISIS.

France contributed to the restoration initiative by donating three bells crafted in the French city of Normandy. The restoration project, supported by France, is ongoing, emphasizing the commitment to revive the Church of the Hour to its former glory.

In 2014, with the arrival of ISIS in Mosul, the church suffered a grim fate, transforming into a weapons storage facility and a site for torture. The terrorist organization pillaged its archaeological treasures, including a notable clock bestowed upon the Dominican fathers by the wife of Emperor Napoleon III. The reopening of the Church of the Hour symbolizes resilience, cultural restoration, and a reclaiming of sacred spaces in the face of adversity.