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June 24th
2018

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corner Saints Sergius and Bacchus' Churches - Syria 3 - Maaloula 1 corner
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SYRIA - MAALOULA - CHURCH OF MAR SARKIS AND BAKHOS


Maaloula is situated in the Qalamoun Mountains at about 50 Km to the North-East of Damascus, perched like an eagle at 1650 m of altitude. . Relics, boulders and caverns carved in the rocks relate the history of thousands of years from the Aramaean era, when Maalula was part of the kingdom of Homs. During the Roman era it was named Seliocopolis. Maalula played an important religious role during the Byzantine era, as it became at the fourth century A.D. the centre of an episcopate that lasted until the 17th century.

The Aramic language witch is still spoken in Maalula is an extremely ancient language current in the Middle east during the first millennium before Christ. Two books of the Bible, Daniel and Esdras, were written in Western Aramaic. It was also the language of Christ. The Lord's Prayer, the prayer of Christians all over the world, was first spoken in Aramaic; the monks of Mar Sarkis have made a recording of it in this language.

The ancient and  predominantly Christian village of Maalula, in occasion of the uprise against the president Bashar Al-Assad, militants have destroyed the ancient Christian Church of Holy Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus and have stolen or demolished its world-famous icons. A correspondent of ITAR-TASS agency saw it for himself on September 29 2013.

A unique icon of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus painted in the 13th century, which was situated just at the entrance, has been lost forever. The iconostasis and its central icon, painted in the 13th century, have been destroyed together with the icons of the Mother of God and Christ "the Archpastor". The latter always evoked the surprise of researchers because it depicted Christ in a long robe of silk with golden threads which is more typical to Damascus of the 18th century than to the period of the beginnings of Christianity. There is no altar of Sts. Sergius and Bacchus any more. It was semicircular with a low edge - the legacy of pagan altars. Now only debris remains of it.


Plan
Plan of the Church of Mar Sarkis and Bakhos - Maaloula
  1. Main Altar
  2. Side Altar
  3. Iconostasis
  4. Choir
  5. Main Porch
  6. Side Porch
  7. Entrance

A landmark in Maalula - a Syriac Christian village - is Mar Sarkis (Sergius) Monastery. It was built in the fourth century on the remains of a pagan temple. It was named after St. Sarkis, the Syrian knight who fell in the reign of king Maximanus in 297 together with St. Bakhos.


exterior
Exterior of the Church of Mar Sarkis in 1967

interior
Interior of the Church of Mar Sarkis

interior
Interior of the Church of Mar Sarkis

icon
Icon above the iconostasis

altar
Church of Mar Sarkis - Altar

interior
Icon behind the altar

interior
Fresco of St. Bacchus and Sergius on the Dome. One of the two saints is barely visible on this picture.
Another image on the dome, here not visible, represents the Virgin Mary.

SYRIA - MAALOULA - MONASTERY OF MAR SARKIS AND BAKHOS


The monastery owns several icons representing the two saint martyrs.


exterior
Exterior of the monastery of Mar Sarkis and Mar Bakhos

entrance
Entrance to the monastery of Mar Sarkis and Mar Bakhos

entrance
Back side of the monastery of Mar Sarkis and Mar Bakhos

entrance
Monastery of Mar Sarkis and Mar Bakhos - Inner yard

Images courtesy of Ruth & Frank Harold and others

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