'We yearn for people to return:' Syrian desert monastery reopens after a decade of war

A lone Syrian monastery that was once a hub for interfaith dialogue has reopened to visitors after more than a decade of war and isolation.

Deir Mar Mousa Al-Habashi, known as St. Moses the Ethiopian, is situated in the desert on a rock-cliff in Al-Nabek, some 100 kilometres from Syria’s capital, Damascus. The seventh-century monastery once attracted tens of thousands of people.

More than a decade of war in Syria and the coronavirus pandemic, however, emptied the space of visitors.

“Father Paolo is one of the founders of the monastery and he is the one who restored it,” says Father Jihad Youssef, the head of the monastery.

“He rebuilt the monastery from ruin

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