Saint Mary Church of the Holy Belt, Historic Landmark of Civilization and Humanity

(ST) - Um Az-Zinnar Church, (Saint Mary's Holy Belt), is a historical Syriac Orthodox Church in Homs. The church is built over an underground church dating back to 50 AD. It is the seat of the Syriac Orthodox archbishopric. It is called so, because the church contains the venerated Holy Girdle that is supposed to be a part of the belt of Saint Mary, mother of Jesus.
The church is one of the oldest and most important features of the ancient city of Homs. It is located in the neighborhood of Bustan Diwan, which is one of the alleys of old Homs. Visitors can not visit Homs without visiting the church.

The church is famous for its unique architectural style, as the black basalt stone was used in the construction, as well as the stone vaults.
The church was built as a small underground basement in the first century AD. The current church is built over an ancient archaic church which is believed to date back to the Byzantine era. The hall is rectangular like, the roof is a long dome that ends with flat roof and the ceiling is built on six nodes and six pillars.

In the mid-fifties of the last century, while browsing a manuscript in April 1953, a leather with several papers was found in. After opening these papers, it was discovered that it is a collection of manuscripts consisting of 46 letters written in Krishoni and Arabic, dating back to 1852 from the Diocese of Homs to the sons of the Mardin diocese. When the church was demolished to be renovated, the Lady's belt was found in the sacrificial vessel in the altar. At the unveiling of the sacred table, a stone plaque was found that was also written in Krishoni. Below the plaques there is an old stone jar covered with a circular copper plate. The girdle was carefully wrapped in the jar.
The landmark Um Az-Zinnar Church sustained severe damage at the hands of terrorists who had ravaged the Old City before they were forced out by the Syrian army.
The Virgin's belt was taken out and kept in a safe place, until the city was liberated from terror, to begin the restoration work of the church. The Virgin Mary's belt and icon were restored to the church on August 15, 2014.

Amal Farhat - Homs

 

Syrian Jazira: Birthplace of Civilizations

(ST) -References and history books say that this part of the world between the Euphrates and Tigris is called al Jazira, (in Arabic the Island) because it is situated between two great rivers. This Jazira is divided between Syria and Iraq, and the part between the Euphrates and al Khabour, one of the tributaries of the Euphrates, is called Syrian Jazira, a place described by one of the renowned historians as the land between "Mudhar" and "Diyar Bakr", of fresh air, fertile soil, prosperous with great cities and strong forts and citadels".

The history of Syrian Jazira is closely linked to the history of Mesopotamia which was divided into Sumer and Akkad in the south east, Elam in north east, and Amoro, the Amorites, in south west, and Subarto in north west. Al Kabour river was in the kingdom of Subarto which extended from the city of Elam in Mesopotamia to the Taurus Mountain range.

The clay boards discovered in the royal archives of Assure Banipal mentioned the kingdom of Subarto, birth place of successive civilizations since it fell to the Hittites who gradually annexed it to their land, then to the Mitannis who established a state in the Syrian Jazira and built a capital called "Washukanni" at the sources of River Khabour. The Assyrians, later, destroyed Washukanni but couldn't settle it because of the strong and continuous resistance of the Hittites and other peoples. This long conflict paved the way to the Aramites to establish a new strong kingdom in the Syrian Jazira, over the ruins of the Mitanni kingdom. One of the Aramite lords built the city of Guzanna, of Tell Khalaf, to be the state's capital. Again the Assyrians returned to the region, in a new campaign, and their king, Teglat Falasser I, could occupy Guzanna, but for a short time, because the Mitannis resumed their power, and established a new Aramaic kingdom under "Abi Salmo" chief of Guzanna, who gave the name of his capital to the new state.

Jeiroud ... the Town of High Plateaus Rich in Natural Resources

The city of "Jeiroud" is located in the governorate of Damascus Countryside. It is at 835 meters above sea level. The city is located in the north-east of «al -Qataifah» city in the low eastern plateau of the Qalamoun area. A wide valley runs through it, and to the east there is an area known as " the Saltcellar of Jeiroud." The site is surrounded by archaeological sites dating back to prehistoric times.

The ancient town dates back to the Aramaic time and was mentioned in the Roman and Byzantine eras and it was also mentioned in Al Asfahani’s book (“Al -Aghani”) and al -Hamawi Lexicon in the name of «Jroud». The discovered antiquities in the area indicate that the start of the human dates back to the period from 12 to 10 thousand years BC.

The results of some studies of one of the  archaeological finds discovered is a (handmill) to confirm that the people knew agriculture since the sixth millennium BC, an ancient pottery canal also was discovered extending from the south to the north.

The origin of the name “Jairoud” has a lot of interpretations, including what return to Assyrian Arabic or to the Syriac origin, where Syriac translates the word “Jairoud” into two parts "Jei" means "low" and "roud" means the "group" to become the meaning of the name "low group" that settled on the banks of Jeiroud Lake. It is said that the name comes from the word "barren" and means in Arabic the place that not producing fruit or seeds with wide high plateaus that is suitable for grazing. This name was given to this region during the Islamic conquest and then changed to become « Jeiroud ».The people in this area works in agriculture, raising livestock, poultry, practicing some simple handicrafts and the industry of gypsum extracted from the mine located south of saltcellar, where it has a medical gypsum production plant and a Meteorological Station.

Sh. Kh.

Tourist Group Visits Palmyra Archeological City

(ST)-A tourist group representing  different nationalities recently visited the  archeological city of Palmyra to inspect its reality and see the damages inflicted upon its historical and archeological monuments.

The tourist group visited Ba’al Temple, Arch of Triumph, the Great Colonnade, the archeological amphitheater and Palmyra National Museum.

A tourist from India, holding a British nationality, stressed that what have been done by the enemies of history and culture who destroyed the most important deep-rooted archeological landmarks in Palmyra is a shame on all humanity. She expressed appreciation of the art and the unique architectural style in Palmyra, in addition to the beautiful nature of the city which will remain deep in her memory for ever.

John the Baptist Church in Homs Dated back to the 15th century AD

Homs, (ST)- The charming historical icons of Saint John the Baptist Church in Qattina town, Homs countryside, attracts visitors and believers from around the world.  Its ancient stones, dating back to hundreds of years, were built in a unique architectural design that endows it with high prestigious status.

The Church is one of the most important tourist destinations in Qattina town as the current church had been built over the ancient church which was a monastery inhabited by some monks, one of these monks was Bishop Joachim ben Maatouq.