In December 2016 – after five years of vicious fighting, devastating airstrikes, food and water shortages, power cuts and an absence of medical care – the Syrian government announced its recapture of rebel-held neighbourhoods and declared Aleppo a ‘safe city’. Two years before, Father Ibrahim Alsabagh moved to the city to assume responsibility for a parish located just metres from militant bases. This book gathers the Franciscan’s brief notes, anecdotes and reflections from that time.
Often writing as bombs fall around his monastery, Father Ibrahim recounts how he and his besieged parishioners live everyday life, their joys, sorrows and cries that become prayers. Father Ibrahim gives striking examples of how hope is constantly reborn; he shows what it means to retain a sense of meaning in a situation in which violence and evil seem to have the last word.
‘They send us death and we give them back life. They throw hatred at us and we offer love in return through that charity which is manifested in forgiveness and prayer for the conversion of those who attack us.’
Ibrahim Alsabagh was born and raised in Damascus. He began medical school but decided to join the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, which serves the Custody of the Holy Land. After his studies in Rome, he returned to Syria in 2014 to be with his suffering people. Father Ibrahim is parish priest of the Latin Church of St Francis of Assisi in the city of Aleppo, a populous economic hub that became a key battleground in Syria’s civil war.