SAINT MARY OF THE HOLY BELT (Um Al Zennar)
Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, Old city of Homs
Saint Mary of the Holy Belt (Um Al Zennar) Syriac Orthodox Cathedral is located in the historical centre of Homs. The cathedral was built over an underground church dating from the 1st century. The place of worship took its name from the relics of the Holy Girdle, supposed to be part of a belt belonging to the Virgin Mary. Saint Mary Um Al Zennar Cathedral is the seat of the Syriac Orthodox Archbishop, and the bishop’s residence overlooks a courtyard surrounded.
The cathedral was damaged in 2011–2012 during conﬂict between the armed opposition and the Syrian government security forces. During the ceasefire in May 2012 opposition forces torched the cathedral while government forces were evacuating.
Later clashes caused extensive damage to the exterior of the cathedral: the roof was destroyed by bombing. The relics of the Holy Girdle of the Virgin Mary were returned to Um Al Zennar Cathedral on 16 August 2014. His Holiness Ignatius Aphrem II, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch, congratulated the people of Homs for the return of the belt, saying:
“We are a peace-seeking people, and we will rebuild the country of Syria on the basis of coexistence and amity – for both Muslims and Christians.”