Mar Behnam Monastery
Entrance of the monastery
|Order||Syriac Catholic Church|
|Dedicated to||Mar Behnam, Mart Sara|
|Location||near Beth Khdeda|
Monastery of the Martyrs Mar Behnam and Marth Sarah (Syriac: ܕܝܪܐ ܪܡܪܝ ܒܗܢܡ ܘܡܪܬ ܣܪܐ, Arabic: دير مار بهنام, Mar Behnam Monastery), was a Syriac Catholic monastery in northern Iraq in the village Khidr Ilyas close to the town of Beth Khdeda. It was destroyed on March 19, 2015 by Islamic State.
The monastery, after its establishment continued its work and contributed greatly to the Christian world under the care of the Syriac Orthodox Church. Sculptures in the church show that renovations were done in 1164 and between 1250-1261. Records show that the monastery suffered greatly during the period from 1743-1790 which was due to attacks carried out by Nader Shah, the then-muslim ruler of Persia, against the Christians in the region.
In 1790 the monastery was taken over by the Catholic Church and was managed for eight years until the Syriac Orthodox church took it back. For some unknown reason, the monks abandoned the monastery in 1819. The monastery changed hands again to the Syriac Catholic Church in 1839, which has cared for it to the present time.
The monastery belonged to the Church of the East for at least ten centuries, which is attested to by rare Turkic inscriptions from the 13th century left by Mongol pilgrims. Before turning to the hand of the Syriac Orthodox Church, the whole region converted to Monophysitism and the monastery became the residence as well as the resting place of a number of Syriac Orthodox Patriarchs.
The monastery was renovated in 1986, and was visited by thousands of Christians and Muslims yearly until ISIS took control of the area.
During the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive, jihadist troops of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took control of the monastery. The troops removed crosses from the monastery, threatened monks with execution and then expelled the monks with nothing but the clothes on their backs. On March 19, 2015 Islamic State released photos showing the blowing up of the historic tomb of Saint Behnam. After more than 2 years of occupation, the monastery and its surrounding area was liberated by Iraqi Security Forces on November 20, 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mar Behnam Monastery.|
- Jones, Christopher (23 June 2015). "Another Treasure Lost in Iraq: The Story of Mar Behnam Monastery". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
- بهنام وسارة, الصرح والتاريخ, Bakhdida.com (Arabic)
- دير مار بهنام الشهيد في مدينة الموصل بالعراق, CopticCatholic.com (Arabic)
- Girgio Bernadelli (June 11, 2014). "The new plight of Christians in Mosul". Vatican Insider. La Stampa. Retrieved June 24, 2014.
- Vivian Salama; Cara Anna (March 6, 2015). "Outrage: Extremists take ancient statues, damage Iraqi site". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved March 6, 2015.
- Hawramy, Fazel (July 24, 2014). "Iraqi Christians in Mosul told by Isis to convert to Islam or be executed". The Guardian. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
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