Francis suffers with the persecuted of the Mideast, crucified like Jesus
Trip to Iraq 2016 December 19
A decapited and shot at by ISIS the statue of Our Lady in the side chapel of the Mar Quryaqus (Qeryaqos) church in Batnaya
Mar Quryaqus (Qeryaqos) church in Batnaya
There is a church in Batnaya by the name of Mar Quryaqus (Qeryaqos), the patron of the town. It is a big church in the middle of the town on a high area. In 1944 the Mar Qeryaqos Church was built on the ruins of a monastery by the same name believed to have been built early 15th century. A second but smaller church Mart Maryam was built in 1966, while the church of Mar Gewargis was mentioned in an inscription dating 1745. Besides, there is the Monastery of St. Joseph which looks like a big house. It is inhabited by the Order of the Dominican Sisters. It also contains rooms and halls for catechism and a kindergarten. It is run by the religious and teachers of catechism. It is noteworthy that the sub-diocese of Mar Quryaqus belongs to the Chaldean Diocese of Elqosh.
There is a shrine in the town called Mart Shmooni which lies in the middle of the towns cemetery. It is visited by people on memorial occasions for prayer, religious canticles on such revered occasions for the villagers.
Batnaya is an Assyrian town in northern Iraq located 14 miles north of Mosul and around 3 miles north of Tel Keppe. All of its citizens fled to Iraqi Kurdistan after the ISIS invasion on August 6, 2014. On October 20, 2016, Peshmerga and Assyrian forces drove ISIS out and occupied the town. 
The name Batnaya is of Syriac origin derived from either "Beth Tnyay" meaning "The House of Mud" or "Beth Tnaya" meaning "The House of Assiduity."
Batnaya used to be called "Beth Madaye" meaning the "House of the Medes" where it's believed that a group of the Medes who followed the Assyrian monk Oraham (Abraham) settled there around the seventh century. It's also believed that Christianity reached Batnaya around that time.
Batnaya was attacked by the army of Nader Shah in 1743 who destroyed the village extensively and is believed to have killed half of its inhabitants.
In the past Batnaya used to be famous for making matting from the reeds its people used to cultivate in the valley of al-Khoser river. Currently, some of its inhabitants are cultivating different kinds of crops while others are involved in non-agricultural trades.
In 1944 the Mar Qeryaqos Church was built on the ruins of a monastery by the same name believed to have been built early 15th century. A second but smaller church Mart Maryam was built in 1966, while the church of Mar Gewargis was mentioned in an inscription dating 1745.
In Batnaya are several inscriptions, one dating to 1545 by Darweesh bin Yohanan from the village of Aqreen is entitled "Prayers for the Dead", another one is a complete bible inscribed in Syriac by the priest Ataya bin Faraj bin Marqos of Alqosh dating 1586.
As with all the other currently chaldean villages that belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church, Batnaya's chaldean used to follow the Church of the East until the sixteenth century, when the efforts of the Catholic Church came to fruition and the Church of the East was divided. However, as is the case with all the other villages of the Nineveh Plains, Catholicism did not gain ground till around mid 18th century.
During the 17th and 19th centuries, the town had about 900 people; in 1995, the town grew to about 3,000 people. Prior to the emergence of ISIS, it exceeded over 6,000 people. All the people in the town are chaldean and belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church.
Modern day Batnaya
In 2007, because of the growth of the town, Sargis Aghajan built 25 new model houses near the Mar Oraha Monastery, which is beside the town. The Provision of municipal services to the village and monastery through the supply of two tractors for harvest & agriculture, and a dumper to collect garbage as well as employment of labourers to clean the access roads in the village. The village is under full control of "Peshmerga".
Concelebrates Mass with Patriarch of Melkite Greek Church, many of whom are persecuted for their faith
Pope Francis concelebrated Mass on Tuesday morning with the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Youssef Absi.
Instead of delivering a homily, Pope Francis said a few words about the meaning of the day’s celebration: “This Mass with our brother, Patriarch Youssef confirms our Apostolic Communion: He is the father of a very ancient Church, and he comes to embrace Peter and to say ‘I am in communion with Peter.’”
Francis described the Melkite Greek Church as “a rich Church with its own theology within Catholic theology and with its own marvelous liturgy.”
He added, “at this moment a large part of the [Melkite] people is crucified, like Jesus.”
He said the Mass was being celebrated for the people of the Melkite Greek Church, “for the people who suffer, and for persecuted Christians in the Middle East, who give up their lives, goods, and property because they are driven out.”
Following the Mass, Patriarch Youssef thanked the pope for “this beautiful Mass of communion.”
Patriarch Youssef promised to keep Pope Francis in his heart and prayers. “I cannot describe the beauty,” the patriarch said, of “this communion, which unites all the disciples of Christ.”