Christian nuns hold candles for siege victims during a mass at Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad, Iraq, on Nov. 7. Iraqi Christians gathered for mass in the same church where, just a week earlier, a siege by militants left 58 dead and 75 wounded. Khalid Mohammed/AP
Iraqi security forces stand guard outside Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad, Iraq, on Nov. 4. Iraq's Christian churches are under heavy security following the deadly Nov. 1 siege on Our Lady Of Salvation. Karim Kadim/AP
Neda Jacoub prays at St. Toma church in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad, on Sept. 20. The church, built in 1935, was badly damaged in 2003 by a rocket during the US-led invasion. The local Chaldean Christian bishop, Emad Aziz al-Banna, said worshippers abandoned the church, fearing the roof could fully collapse. Many Christian families have left the mostly Shiite Muslim city during the Iraq war. Religious minorities in other cities around Iraq also have left the country in great numbers, fearing for their safety. Nabil al-Jurani/AP
Iraqi Roman Catholic priests (from l.) Mukhls Shash, Sadi Khudor, and Nabil Balo, hold prayers at the Roman Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq, on Nov. 7. Khalid Mohammed/AP
Iraqi Christians pray during a mass at the Roman Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq, on Nov. 7. Khalid Mohammed/AP
Priest Nabil Balo blesses a woman during a mass at the Roman Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq, on Nov. 7. Khalid Mohammed/AP
An Iraqi Christian boy attends a weekly mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq on October 3. Mohammed Ameen/Reuters
Iraqi military personnel stand guard outside a cathedral in Kirkuk, Iraq, during the Christmas Day mass on December 25, 2008. Around 800,000 Christians lived in Iraq at the time of the US-led invasion, but the number has since shrunk by around a third or more as members of the minority community have fled the country, according to Christian leaders. Marwan Ibrahim/AFP/Newscom/FILE
An Iraqi Christian man adds the final touches to a Christmas tree in the northern city of Kirkuk, 150 miles from Baghdad, Iraq, on December 23, 2009. Marwan Ibrahim/AFP/Newscom/FILE
Chaldean Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad Shlemon Warduni (r.) prays at the Church of the Virgin Mary on Palestine Street in Baghdad, Iraq, on December 25, 2008. Ali Yussef/AFP/Newscom/FILE
Lebanon's Maronites used to play a crucial role in the region, but their power and sense of identity are waning. One organization hopes to reverse that by reviving their ancient language, Syriac.
Justin Salhani, Contributor /
October 7, 2012
Lebanon's most prominent Christian group, the Maronites, used to be so influential that the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat reportedly quipped that "The road to Jerusalem passes through Jounieh," referring to a town north of Beirut that was a stronghold for Lebanese Christian militias.