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Nuncio celebrates Mass at ancient Iraqi monastery, meets Shi’ite leader

Catholic World News - October 23, 2012

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the apostolic nuncio in Iraq, celebrated Mass at an ancient monastery near the city of Najaf, and met with the influential Shi’ite leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

At his meeting with Sistani, the Vatican envoy said that Pope Benedict “is very concerned with the situation of Christians in Iraq, and has urged them to stay in the country and live their lives naturally."

During his trip to Najaf, the archbishop celebrated Mass at a monastery in al-Hira, which was a stronghold of Christianity before the rise of Islam. The Mass was believed to be the first Eucharistic liturgy in that monastery in 1,500 years. The region is dotted with ancient monasteries, most of them now abandoned.

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