SYRIA: Daraa, Izzra, Etcetera

SYRIA: Daraa, Izzra, Etcetera May 30, 2010

This is the fourteenth in a 15-part series of pics from Syria.


Traveled with Fr Isaac down to Daraa, a city with deep ancient roots in southwestern Syria, near the border with Jordan. While there, we visited the Church of the Annunciation, the priest, Fr George, and its daycare center.

Fr George, Fr Isaac, our driver and I repaired to a nearby restaurant built on a pier on a lake …

No time to dally (it being my last full day in Syria), we hastened back toward Sweida …

toward a wonderful feast in the home of Fr Timon.

Metropolitan SABA and one of Fr Timon’s daughters.

Fr Timon’s family (taken of a photo on their wall).

The repast following the feast; on the left, a priest’s mom and a bishop’s mom.

What was once an abode of demons has become a house of God, where once sacrifices were made to idols, there are now choirs of angels, where God was provoked to wrath, now He is propitiated.” — The 6th century Church of St George in Izzra, which was once a pagan temple (hence the quote, etched above the entryway).

To the left of the church’s entry, they have installed a place of reverence to St George.

Because … this draped space is where the sarcophagus used to be, behind the altar. It used to contain the sarcophagus with the body of St George, before his relics were transferred to Lod, Israel.

But you can’t convince the faithful that he’s not still there; hence, the railing installed around the altar — which allows the pious to still reverence the “empty tomb”.

Fr Elia said, “Want to go up on the roof?”
“Sure,” I replied (not realizing that the way up was skinny old high pitched steps minus a hand rail!).

After descending back to the altar, I said: “Your parish is the sister parish of ours, St George in Houston.” He said, “Y’all just celebrated 80 years recently?” I said, “Yes, why?” He said, “Because, someone sent me your festive ad book and I copied these pages so that I could have St George’s troparion (hymn) in English” — and there it was, on a stand by the holy table!

Fr Elia & Fr Timon. Fr Timon holds the keys to the steel doors of the ancient church. The steel doors were recently installed to replace …

stone doors, like this one that now serves a monument in the courtyard.

Next: My final day in Syria.

Podcast – “The Blindside” (in Syria); Article – Antiochian website

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