File photo of St. Elijah Maronite Catholic Church in Aleppo city.

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:35 P.M.) – A two-century-old Maronite Catholic cathedral has been reopened to the public for the first time in several years.

According to the Vatican, the Maronite Cathedral of St. Elijah was reopened to the public after suffering extensive damage due to attacks by the jihadist forces in Aleppo.

The Vatican said the cathedral’s restoration was largely financed by the pontifical foundation, “Aid to the Church in Need”, which helps rebuild damaged churches.

Maronite Archbishop, Joseph Tobij of Aleppo told Vatican News the restoration and re-opening of the cathedral have both a symbolic and practical meaning.

“It’s a sign of hope and rebirth, not only in a material sense but for the entire community, despite the fact that the numbers of Christians continue to dwindle, due to extreme poverty linked to the sanctions imposed on the defenseless population,” he said.

The reopening on 20 July of the 19th-century Cathedral celebrates a new lease on life for the Christians of Aleppo as the building had been devastated in 2013 by a group of jihadists whose aim was to destroy all signs of Christianity in the country.

Archbishop Tobij said the main difficulties encountered in the restoration were the raising of funds and the reconstruction of the original wooden roof.

Local artisans, he explained, lacked expertise in this area so a group of Italian architects stepped in to redesign the roof project.

 

Source: Vatican News

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