Amid the Syrian civil war, Christians are fleeing in greater numbers from the region, with many heading to neighboring Lebanon then Europe.
“We don’t want to lose the Christianity in the Arab region,” reporter Nasir Habish told Vatican Radio, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported. “This is the land of Jesus. I can’t imagine the land of Jesus without Christians.”
According to Sister Agnes-Mariam de la Croix, mother superior of the Greek Catholic Monastery of St James the Mutilated in Syria, the uprising has been “hijacked” by Islamist mercenaries. She estimates that over 300,000 Christian Syrians have become refugees, CNA reported.
Syrian Christians fear a repeat of Iraq, where Islamists fighting U.S.-backed coalition forces began targeting Iraqi Christians for intimidation, killings and kidnappings that drove hundreds of thousands of Christians out of the country.
But despite the threats of Islamism and government forces, some Christians are holding on.
At the St. Elie Rest Home, in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, Christians are looking out for one another.
“We welcome everyone who has been abandoned or is in need,” says Sister Marie, 75, the Mother Superior, told the Lebanese Daily Star.
The Christian-run home for the elderly was founded in 1863 and has transformed into a tiny refuge for those escaping the violence.
“Every day we pray for peace,” and when the bombs fall, “we take refuge in the chapel, the safest place in the building,” the Sister said.