Fascinating story from the NY Times about St. Elijah’s monastery in Iraq. A few quotes of note —
The sergeant is a nurse, the senior noncommissioned officer at the combat hospital here on Marez, but either by coincidence or higher purpose, he is also a master stone mason, experienced in historic preservation back home.
“We stand in a long line of people who bequeathed the faith to us,” said Maj. Jeffrey Whorton, a Roman Catholic chaplain, presiding over Mass in the monastery the other day, attended by three camouflaged soldiers, their rifles leaning in a corner.
The monastery is believed to date from the late 500s, when Elijah, an Assyrian monk, traveled from what is now Turkey. It later became part of the Chaldean Catholic Church. …
In 1743, a Persian king swept through the area and ordered the monks to convert to Islam. They chose instead to die. In a violent place where Christians are still targets, most recently in bombings this week that struck two churches in Mosul, St. Elijah’s history resonates.
“May I be committed like those who lived here and perished instead of denouncing their faith,” Maj. Julian L. Padgett, a Baptist chaplain, prayed after leading soldiers and contractors on the weekly Friday tour of the monastery.