Bathroom break saves bishop’s life in Syria bomb blast

DAMASCUS – A bishop in war-torn Syria narrowly escaped death when a bomb landed on his bed during an offensive in the country’s capital, Damascus.

According to Christian humanitarian charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar’s life was spared because he woke up from a nap to go to his bathroom on Monday.

He told ACN: “A shell fell on my bed… when I had retired for a little siesta, a few seconds at the sink saved my life!

“The bed was riddled with shrapnel.”

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He added that priests and staff at the Maronite Patriarchate feared he had been killed in the blast.

Archbishop Nassar wrote: “They cried with joy when they saw me coming out alive of the smoke and rubble.”

He continued: “Providence watches over his little servant, but now I am exiled like 12 million Syrian refugees who have nothing left.”

According to estimates, 10 shells fell in areas of Damascus including Bab Sharqi, Bab Touma, and Al-Qassaa.

The Melkite Patriarchate on Straight Street – the only road mentioned in the New Testament and the place where St Paul stayed – suffered damage when a bomb fell on the courtyard.

Bishop Samir explained that Maronite cathedral has suffered major damage.

“The doors of the cathedral and 43 windows and doors have to be replaced, holes need to be filled, fuel tanks and water tanks need repairing, as does the electricity network, a car was damaged,” he said.

“Violence is the only master, innocents are being sacrificed every day.”

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Also, the neighbouring Sisters of Jesus and Mary convent was partially damaged. They have asked for prayers for seven people in hospital who were injured during the bombing.

Throughout a bloody civil war that broke out in Syria in 2011, some hard-line Islamist opposition groups have targeted Christian churches and clerics. Christians, like other minorities, are generally viewed as supportive of the government of President Bashar Assad.

Two Syrian bishops were kidnapped outside Aleppo in 2013 and remain missing. An Italian Jesuit, Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, went missing the same year in northern Syria. Rebels linked to Al Qaeda abducted 13 Catholic nuns from the historic Christian town of Maaloula in 2013; they were later released in a prisoner exchange.