The cross in Telekuf-Tesqopa, near Mosul, Iraq. (Patriarchate of Babylon via CNA)
The Chaldean Catholic patriarch of Baghdad blessed the large cross and participated in the celebration of the first Mass after two and a half years.
MOSUL, Iraq — After years of darkness, hope has returned to Telekuf-Tesqopa. Located just 17 miles from Mosul, the village is rebuilding after being liberated from ISIS.
As a visible sign of the rebuilding, a giant cross was erected on a hill, marking the victory of the Christian faith against the darkness of the jihadists.
On Feb. 18, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Sako, visited the village, where he blessed the large cross and participated in the celebration of the first Mass after two and a half years in St. George Church.
According to the website of the Patriarchate of Babylon, the authorities and officials of the region were present at the celebration.
In his homily, Patriarch Sako said that this event is “the first spark of light shining in all the cities of the Nineveh Plain since the darkness of ISIS, which lasted almost two and a half years.”
“This is our land, and this is our home,” he told the faithful. He also said that now is the time to regain hope and for the people to return to their towns to begin a new stage of life.
The patriarch said that Christians will thus demonstrate to the world that the forces of darkness, which wreaked havoc and ravaged their land, are ephemeral and that the Church of Christ, although it suffers, is built upon rock.
When the Mass was over, everyone went out to a hill located on the outskirts of the city. There, Patriarch Sako blessed the huge cross, which was raised amid fireworks and with cries of “Victory! Victory! Victory! For those who chose the faith and those who return!”
The Catholic patriarch said that this cross will announce “to the world that this is our land, we were born here, and we will die here. Our ancestors were buried in this pure land, and we are going to remain to preserve them with all our might and for future generations.”
“It is a sincere and great call to return and rebuild. We are joined to our land, to our future on the land of our ancestors. Here we can be proud of our history, and here we can obtain the granting of all our rights,” Patriarch Sako said.
Before the celebration of the Mass, a delegation came to Telekuf-Tesqopa to assess the state of damage and to ask for the support of international organizations for reconstruction. St. George Church was cleaned by volunteers from the French aid organization SOS Chrétiens d’Orient. (SOS Christians of the East).
The placement of crosses has become a recurring gesture since the Iraqi Army began the offensive to recover the city of Mosul, the ISIS stronghold in Iraq.
In every village liberated on the Plain of Nineveh, Christians have made wooden crosses and have placed them on the roofs of churches and homes.
Muslims have also participated in these events. Last week, a group of Muslims youths joined those cleaning a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary located in east Mosul, liberated by the Iraqi Army.
This action is part of a campaign that seeks to remember the religious coexistence that was present in the city before the jihadists occupied it in 2014.