Going Christ mad in Syria
CHURCH sHOPPING HOPPING in ALLEPO, SYRIA
One Sunday night,
in one of those quiet periods of Ramadhan after sunset and before the night market madness, we decided to create some frenzy of our own by visiting a series of churches in the shortest amount of time — because we can.
Within a block of each other stands
Armenian, Greek, Maronite and Roman churches — Orthodox and Catholic —
a odd solidarity amid a sea of mosques in Muslim-dominated Syria.
This is probably the only square kilometre in the world where you can see a Greek orthodox priest hold out a giant cross for the altar boy to kiss, witness a catholic bishop put on his elaborate garments and grab a staff before mass, and see two black-robed Armenian priests take turns chanting the bible — all within the same hour!
Hear the bells toll one after another
calling the faithful in to pray.
We were stunned by the icon of mother mary exposing a nude breast to nurture infant jesus in the Armenian church of 40 matyrs before feeling small in the huge Catholic church complex, less for image but more on design, tickled by shrouded and bearded yet serene picture of Maronite patriaches, and then puzzled to see a baby jesus with curly hair in the Greek church.
Even the languages are uncommon — from Arabic to Greek to Armenian. and yet, they are all CHRISTIANS.