SYRIA – The story of a priest held hostage by Isis

Vatican News | Dec. 5, 2019

Father Jacques Mourad is a Syrian-Catholic priest. In 2015, he spent five months as a hostage of jihadist terrorists in Syria. He describes it as a spiritual experience and says it was praying the Rosary and recalling the teachings of Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio that gave him peace and strength.

By Fabio Colagrande

Father Jacques moves slowly, supporting himself with a cane. In the sultry heat of a midsummer afternoon in Rome, he comes to meet us in the garden of the Don Gnocchi Rehabilitation Center. His limp and slow pace anticipates his story. A bright smile lights up his face, the same smile he offered the Isis terrorists who kept him prisoner for five months in Syria in 2015, before his daring escape. Father Jacques Mourad is a Syrian-Catholic monk and priest from the diocese of Homs in Syria, his native country. He tells the story of his kidnapping in the book “A Monk Held Hostage: a jihadist prisoner’s struggle for peace” (published in Italy by Effatà), which he wrote together with journalist Amaury Guillem. Today he lives in Iraqi Kurdistan, in Suleymanya, in order to be close to the refugees coming from his country. When in Rome, he stays at the Don Gnocchi Centre where he receives treatment for his back which was severely damaged during the long weeks of detention. 

“I always carry with me the people I met during those months: prisoners, jihadists, they are all in my prayers and in my heart”, he tells us in Italian, the language he learned during the months of rehabilitation here in Rome. “I believe that the merciful God always finds a way to help everyone, and even my jailers can encounter justice and receive the light of the Holy Spirit”.