Project Description

Saint Julain (Dir Mar Elian)  Syriac Orthodox Monastery in Al Qaryatayn,  Homs Governorate

Al Qaryatayn is located in the middle of the Syrian Desert between Homs and Palmyra, where a small oasis allowed a modest amount of agricultural activity. The village is mentioned in the Old Testament, but the monastery dates back to the 5th century AD. The monastery’s name was derived from the tomb of St. Julian the Old Man (Mar Elian esh-Sheikh/Mar Julyano Sobo). St. Julian is believed to have taught St. Ephrem the Syrian, an important spiritual writer. However, the Muslims considered that the person buried in the Byzantine sarcophagus was Sheikh Ahmed Khouri (Sheikh Ahmed the Priest), so the site had been sacred to both Christians and the local Sunni Muslims for hundreds of years, with both groups coming to venerate the grave. The sarcophagus was draped with a green Muslim shroud, but on the satin cloth were placed rosaries, saints’ images and votive candles lit by worshipers from both faiths. Every year on 9 September Deir Mar Elian would draw thousands of faithful to pray at the tomb.

In August 2015 ISIS used a bulldozer to demolish the monastery founded more than 1,500 years ago. The barbaric act was captured on video,
so the destruction of Deir Mar Elian can defnitely be attributed to ISIS. The footage shows bulldozer at work. The sarcophagus was smashed and the relics were scattered on the ground.