by Thomas D. Williams,
In their ongoing rampage against all things Christian, Islamic State jihadists have blown up the historic “Clock Church” in the center of Mosul, one of the most recognizable features of the city which could be seen from miles around.
The distinctive bell tower with the clock had been given to Iraqi Christians by the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III. The church, historically known as the “Church of the Miraculous Madonna,” had been under the care of the Dominican Fathers until being devastated Monday morning with the use of explosives.
The Church was inaugurated on August 4, 1873, and the clock tower was added later when Empress Eugenie donated it in appreciation for efforts made by the Dominican Fathers during a typhoid epidemic that started in 1879. The clock tower was completed in 1882.
Islamic State forces have been under pressure in Mosul, with Kurdish forces to the north and Iraqi government and Shia militia forces to the south threatening to retake it.
Official sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate have attributed the sacrilegious act of vandalism to militants of the Islamic State that has controlled the city since June 9, 2014.
According to local sources, the jihadists evacuated the area around the church and ransacked the building for whatever could be looted before detonating the explosive charges.
The Chaldean Patriarchate strongly condemned this “targeting of the Christian Church,” which it called “a grave sin against God and man” undertaken to erase Iraq’s Christians memory in favor of a state of strangers who commit terror in the name of Islam.
The Chaldean Patriarchate also asked men and women of good will to condemn the act, and urged the international community and religious authorities “to fully assume their responsibilities to protect the country and the lives of innocent citizens, to take serious steps to end the wars and conflicts and create the conditions for laying the foundations of just and comprehensive peace in Iraq.”
“The bells of that clock,” said Sister Luigina Sako, superior of the house in Rome of the Chaldean Sisters of the Daughters of Mary, “chimed in our youth, when Mosul was a city where you lived in peace.”
“I remember as a student, when we had an important exam,” Sr. Sako said, “we all went, Christians and Muslims, to take our requests for help to the Lourdes grotto of that church, which even our Muslim friends knew and honored as the Church of the Miraculous Madonna.”
Christians have lived in Mosul for almost 2,000 years, and at one time Mosul was home to the largest population of Christians in the country outside of the nearby region of Iraqi Kurdistan.