Preserving Iraq’s Christian History
February 2, 2015
The efforts of an Iraqi Dominican, Fr. Najeeb Michaeel, O.P., to preserve his nation’s Christian past in the face of rising extremism have been drawing attention. Both NPR and the Catholic News Agency have run stories on him recently. Fr. Najeeb is an expert on Christianity in the Near East who, until recently, ran a manuscript restoration lab and spearheaded efforts to digitalize the collections of many of Iraq’s ancient monasteries. He has visited the House of Studies in Washington, D.C., where he gave several interviews to the Dominicana blog. The Dominican friars have had a long history of ministering to the people of the Middle East. The Lives of the Brethren reports that as early as 1230, Bl. Jordan of Saxony, the second master of the order, was sending volunteers to the Holy Land. With the fall of Acre in 1291, the last friars in the region were put to the sword. However, the friars returned in 1750, when Pope Benedict XIV asked them to establish a church in Mosul, Iraq. The Dominican friars have served the community ever since, celebrating the sacraments, preaching, and teaching. Image: NPR.