Sister in Syria: Christians in my city clung to prayer and Our Lady

Anguished Christians wondered, “How can I, as a Christian, go to the battlefield and kill?”

Lebanese Sr. Joséphine Bou Nassar was a refugee during her country’s civil war, a conflict that lasted more than 15 years.

She is a sister with Charité de Besançon and, in addition to experiencing the war in her own land when she was young, she had to endure it for three more years as a sister in Syria.

The war occurred in an area that was completely Christian, before it was besieged by jihadist militias of all denominations. When that happened, the Christians stopped going to the churches and all glimmer of normality was crushed under the fighting.

SR. JOSÉPHINE BOU NASSAR
Sister, Charité de Besançon
“I was inspired to carry Our Lady through the houses to protect the Christians. FLASH We left her in a house one night and everyone came to pray. There were families who told me,’We put the Virgin Mary in the living room and we stayed all night there; we slept with Our Lady.”

Because of this sister’s initiative, the image of Our Lady visited 25 or 30 houses daily. It was a simple gesture that filled the Daraa region with hope, the same place where the war began, and where the first atrocities were seen.

SR. JOSÉPHINE BOU NASSAR
Sister, Charité de Besançon
“There are those who told me, ‘I have never prayed the Rosary, but now I have begun to do so, and I am sure that the Virgin will give me the strength, courage and hope to continue despite all we have lived through.’ FLASH It was really moving to hear them, how they have clung to prayer and Our Lady.”

The sister has since returned to Lebanon, where she has lived for several years. However, she had to live in Syria during the worst parts of the war; from the initial outbreak to the arrival of the radicals. She also witnessed the suffering of the Christians, when they were forced to take up arms.

SR. JOSÉPHINE BOU NASSAR
Sister, Charité de Besançon
“The war is hard, especially for Christians who do not want to kill. We have faith and Christ does not want us to kill, to bear arms. They were very distressed, and they wondered, ‘How can I, as a Christian, go to the battlefield and kill?’ That was their anguish.”

She explains that, through prayer and accompaniment, they were able to calm the hearts of many who did not want to go to war, and who still have never returned. She knows that this image of the Virgin Mary continues to visit houses, and fill the few Christians who remain in that part of Syria with comfort.