Mar 10, 2014 / 03:40 pm
A group of Greek Orthodox nuns in Syria, as well as women from their convent’s orphanage, were returned safely Sunday, following their kidnapping by the rebel al-Nusra Front.
“God did not leave us,” said Mother Pelagia Sayyaf of the convent of St. Thekla, when they arrived in Damascus Monday, March 10.
One dozen nuns and three workers were abducted from St. Thekla convent in Ma’loula, located 35 miles north of Damascus, when the town was seized by al-Nusra Front Dec. 2. They had been held three months in the nearby town of Yabrud.
The abductees were brought through a rebel-held border crossing to Arsal, a Lebanese border town, where they were given to Lebanese officials, and then driven to Syria, where they have been taken to the Greek Orthodox patriarchate in Damascus.
“As God is my witness, I tell you the al-Nusra Front treated us well,” one of the nuns told the press.
They explained that they were not forced to remove their crosses, but Mother Sayyaf said they did so “because we were in the wrong place to wear them.”
The nuns’ abduction had prompted objections and concerns from around the world. Pope Francis called for prayers for the nuns in his Dec. 4 general audience. They appeared in a video broadcast on Al Jazeera in December.
Gregorios III, Melkite Greek Patriarch of Antioch, said the nuns’ release was “a sign of hope in this time of crisis.” …
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