A missile fired by Syrian rebels on October 25th during a Sunday mass struck the roof of St. Francis Aleppo, in the area of Azizyeh. It was about 5pm in the evening, and at least 400 people where in the church celebrating evening mass. The bomb didn’t go off. When the atmosphere became calm and they had, they continued at the mass in the church’s garden, confident in the Virgin Mary’s protection, this report says.
The attack took place at 5 p.m. According to the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the priest said that the missile was probably launched from the old town area of Aleppo, which is controlled by jihadist rebels.
It was an attack targeting Christians,” Fr.Ibrahim, a Franciscan Guardian of the Holy Land and parish priest of St. Francis’s in Aleppo, told Aid to the Church in Need on October 27th. “There are some who want to eliminate any possible sign of reconciliation and openness,” he said.
“It happened just as I was preparing to distribute Communion. Suddenly, everything began shaking and inside the church debris began falling. There was so much dust that we could no longer see each other.” By good fortune, the projectile did not explode at the moment it struck the cupola but a few seconds later, sliding over the roof. “If it had exploded in the church, it would have caused a tragedy,” he emphasized. “But as I told the faithful, the mantle of the Virgin protected us.”
After the moment of uncontrollable panic that followed the explosion, Fr. Ibrahim was able to restore calm. He checked if anyone was seriously wounded, then he invited his parishioners to assemble in the churchyard where he gave them Communion. “Some were surprised by my reaction. But I draw my strength from our Lord, in union with him through prayer—the strength to move forward, with an even greater energy, now that we must repair our church.” He said.
Six persons were slightly wounded, but the material damages were significant. Fr. Ibrahim, said “this is not the first time that they have tried to destroy the church, but they haven’t succeeded yet. Our church is the only one in the area that is still open. Many people come here to pray, and no doubt this is why they seek to destroy it.”
The morning after the attack, October 26th, the faithful returned for the morning Mass. “They were a lot of them, and we heard once more with joy the sound of our bell. “We long for the end of this chaos and that we’ll soon be able to talk about these incidents as something from the past. And without fear that the attacks could happen again at any moment.” He continued.
In past weeks, the attacks in Aleppo and other Syrian cities have escalated since Russian warplanes began to take part in the four-year-old civil war.