Antuan Ilgit, SJ / Facebook

Turkey and Syria continue recovery efforts after a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked the Syria-Turkey border on February 6th. Over 50,000 people perished during the earthquake and aftershocks, and it is estimated that close to 18 million people in Syria and Turkey have been impacted. People have leaned on their faith in seeing the way small miracles have still occurred despite the devastation.

 On the day of the earthquake, Jesuit priest Fr. Antuan Igit shared an image of the Virgin Mary standing tall in a mass of rubble. Fr. Igit shared that the statue had survived the collapse of the Cathedral of the Annunciation in Iskenderun, which is in Alexandretta in the Turkish province of Hatay. In the post, which had been translated from Italian, Fr. Igit wrote, “I brought the image of the Virgin Mary from the Cathedral, this image will be our strength, and with her, we will face everything. Let us continue to trust in God and His Holy Providence.” Despite the devastation, Fr. Igit remained hopeful. “Yes, the collapse of the Cathedral is impressive; just yesterday, we celebrated the Sunday Mass there! But now the living stones that need attention and with them with the help of God we can rebuild everything,” he wrote. Fr. Igit also expressed love for Syria. The quake has further exacerbated the effects of a civil war in that country. Turkey is the site of the biggest refugee camp in the region, most of whom are Syrians fleeing the war.  

In speaking about the statue’s survival, Fr. Jeffrey Kirby, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Indian Land, South Carolina, told Fox News Digital that she is a uniting symbol for Christians and Muslims alike. “The protection of the statue of Mary is a spiritual testimony to the shared affection of Christians and Muslims for the Blessed Virgin Mary. There are very few religious symbols that are common to Christians and Muslims, but Mary is one of them,” said Fr. Kirby. “In the Christian tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the mother of hope. The survival of her statue, drawn from the chaos of the earthquake, is a call to faith and confidence in God’s presence and the rebuilding of life after loss and destruction,” Fr Kirby added. Fr. Ilgit spoke with The Society of Jesus, headquartered in Rome, on March 21st, saying he “never felt alone,” during the earthquake as he relied on communion and prayers. Please pray for the people of Syria and Turkey as they recover and consider ways to give

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