Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 20 October |
Saint of the Day: St. Paul of the Cross
Aleteia logo
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

French Catholics in Lourdes Receiving Christian Refugees from Mideast

John Burger - published on 10/06/15

A collaboration among the local church, a veteran and Iraqi Christians...and the Blessed Mother

Pope Francis in September asked Catholics in Europe to put up immigrant families fleeing the horrors of war in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa.

In the village of Lourdes, France, it was already happening.

About 15 Iraqi Christian families have arrived in the pilgrimage town over the past year. Up to 20 families, roughly 70 to 80 people, are expected to have reached the town by early 2016, Reuters reported:

Under a local Catholic initiative called Echo 65 run by retired soldier Pascal Vigneron, the refugees stay with Amer and Nahren at first before being sent to other homes in the parish.

The news service identifies “Amer and Nahren” simply as a Christian couple that fled Iraq about 10 years ago and has been living in France since then. The article did not use the family names of any of the refugees quoted in the article.

The couple has helped other Iraqi Christians with the “active involvement” of their parish priest, Father Jean-Francois Duhar.

Father Duhar and Bishop Nicolas Brouwet of Tarbes and Lourdes contacted the French consulate in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, after France agreed last year to grant asylum to persecuted Iraqi Christians. Visas were issued for those with host families to go to.

Many of the new families are struggling to overcome the memory of their experience with the Islamic State group, however, and the challenge of learning French. Staying with Amer and Nahren, can help with the transition to a new life, Vigneron.

As does being in Lourdes.

“We are split between sadness and joy. But Lourdes is like a flower offering us her perfume. It is the town of the Virgin Mary, giving us our faith,” said one of the refugees, Youssif, 48, a former teacher of the Aramaic and Syriac languages.

Tags:
Christians in the Middle EastPope FrancisRefugees
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
difficult people
Zoe Romanowsky
How to love people you don’t really like
2
saint teresa of Avila
Zelda Caldwell
Now there’s a computer font based on St. Teresa of Avila’s handwr...
3
AVENIDO BROTHERS
Agnès Pinard Legry
Three brothers ordained priests on the same day in the Philippine...
4
SQUID GAMES
Philip Kosloski
How the violence in ‘Squid Game’ can impact your soul
5
Philip Kosloski
A scientist describes the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima
6
JUAN ELIAS MEDINA
Kathleen N. Hattrup
A martyr’s last letter to his mother
7
Theresa Civantos Barber
How following Christ is like falling in love
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.