Ancient icons miraculously survive in burned Syrian Church

In the Syrian Old Homs, "Eleven Christian churches are either completely destroyed or heavily damaged," related a local priest named George Abu Zahem to the Lebanese The Daily Star newspaper.

He has described the situation in the al-Hamidiyah Christian quarter as disastrous. According to the priest, the churches were robbed and desecrated by militants.

"A true miracle happened at Holy Martyr Elian's Orthodox Church in Homs (6th century). The gunmen set it on fire. However, the fire did not touch the ancient icons on the walls—they just slightly darkened," the priest said.

The thick walls have saved the Cathedral of Holy Theotokos, the "calling card" of Old Homs, where is the city's main relic—a small portion of the Girdle of the Mother of God.

According to Abu Zahem, the bell-tower was damaged as a result of fighting: its bell collapsed in the cathedral's courtyard.