The second part of the “Console my People” prayer campaign for Syrian Christians organized by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) together with the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in Syria for families whose dear ones were abducted or killed during the eight years of the conflict, commenced on 15th September 2019, with the blessing of the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Sorrows and Consolatrix of the Syrian People by Pope Francis at the Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.
The Holy Father met with a delegation of Aid to the Church in Need led by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the International President of the Foundation and including Stephen Axisa, National Director of Aid to the Church in Need (Malta), Marie-Claude Lalonde, National Director of ACN (Canada) and Jonathan B. Luciano of ACN (Philippines).
Also part of the delegation was Fr. Spiridon Kabbash, Syriac Orthodox Priest from Homs, Syria who specially painted the icon for this prayer campaign.
On the same day, the 6000 rosaries blessed earlier by Pope Francis, on 15th August 2019 were distributed in the parishes of all 34 Syrian dioceses – both Catholic and Orthodox – in commemoration of the feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
During the celebration of Holy Mass in these parishes and in the various different processions connected with them the faithful prayed for those who were killed or abducted during the war and for their families. Altogether some 2000 Christian families have lost one or more loved ones during the conflict and 800 had a family member abducted.
Bibles in Arabic, donated by ACN, along with crosses made of olive wood from the Holy Land and blessed by Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ephraim III were distributed.
Since 2011, with the help of benefactors, ACN has financed £38 million for 850 projects targeted to give pastoral care, emergency aid and in supporting the livelihood of the people of God in Syria.