In the rugged Qalamoun mountains of Syria lies Maaloula, a village with a remarkable linguistic heritage. Here, the ancient Aramaic language , spoken by Jesus of Nazareth, endures. Amidst the serene backdrop, a statue of the Virgin Mary stands proudly, a symbol of deep faith. In the Santa Claus convent and orphanage, a daily devotion to Jesus takes place. Priests, nuns, and orphans gather, but Aramaic, the once-dominant language, has yielded to Arabic in written form over the centuries. Still, the spirit remains undeterred.
The village’s namesake, Saint Thecla, escaped persecution with divine intervention, leading to Maaloula’s foundation. Her legacy survives not just in the name but also in the language. Maaloula’s 5,000 residents, both Christian and Muslim, continue to converse in Aramaic. A local shepherd, Mikhail, serenades his flock in Aramaic, a language that defied the sands of time. Hollywood’s “The Passion of the Christ” played a role in its revival, captivating the hearts of the faithful. Maaloula’s people, regardless of their faith, unite to preserve this linguistic treasure . Aramaic, once at risk, now thrives as a symbol of the resilience of a community deeply connected to their heritage.
Top image: Syrian man. Source: kichigin19 / Adobe Stock.
By Robbie Mitchell
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