Syrian military forces continue to battle Islamic rebels near the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, Syria, where some residents still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ.
Most Maaloula residents have fled, but nuns and orphans remain holed up in Mar Tekla, one of the town’s two early Christian monasteries.
They are members of the eastern orthodox Church of Antioch. Its leader in the U.S., Metropolitan Philip Saliba, is concerned about their safety.
Philip is a strong supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He joined church leaders in calling for a special “Day of Solidarity” in churches yesterday, with a special collection made for victims in Syria “who are suffering so terribly.”