MARDIN, Turkey

Assyrian Christians in southeastern Turkey on Friday held Christmas Day observances at a local church.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a limited number of people attended the ceremony at Mor Behnam (Kirklar) Church in the Mardin province.

During the service, led by high priest Gabriel Akyuz, people recited prayers and chants in both Syriac and Turkish for world peace and an end to the pandemic.

Akyuz also read out a message from Saliba Ozmen, metropolitan bishop of Mardin and the province of Diyarbakir, who was unable to attend the ceremony because he contracted the virus.

The ritual was streamed live on social media, allowing the faithful to watch from home.

Most years seats at the church are snapped up quickly, but the pandemic limited participation at the ceremony this year, Akyuz said:

“This contagious disease, which has been going on for a year, has imprisoned people in their homes. Many people have passed away,” he added.

“Many people are hospitalized. We prayed for the removal of this disease from the world, our country, and our region.”

*Writing by Seda Sevencan in Ankara

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