Let’s rebuild the convents of Knaye and Yacoubieh!

“Our presence in Idlib is like this church, bombed, then burned, and now damaged by the earthquake, but never destroyed and always present.”

Fr. Louai Bsharat, Knaye

Earthquake in Idlib Northern Syria


The villages of the Orontes isolated and destroyed

In the terrible magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey on the morning of February 6, 2023, a large part of the villages of Knaye and Yacoubieh in Idlib province was destroyed. The 2 Franciscan convents were also partially destroyed or suffered heavy damage.

Since the outbreak of the war,convents have been fundamental points of reference for help and reception for communities living in terrible conditions due to the jihadist occupation and are completely isolated (from 2022 it is not possible to leave or enter the province of Idlib).

For this reason, together with the supply of basic necessities and the reconstruction of houses, it is essential to rebuild these places that are physical and moral support and refuge for those who have nothing left.

Syria Idlib earthquake

Syria earthquake today

Needs after the earthquake

Almost 80% of Knayeh’s homes were destroyed. The village of Jdaide was also severely damaged, but the greatest damage occurred in Yacoubieh, starting from the convent and in the church, which collapsed entirely. In Knayeh, the church has been partly destroyed and the old school is unusable.

Knayeh Convent Reconstruction

The testimony of Fr Louai Bsharat

“We, as friars, along with these impoverished Christians, have made the decision to remain steadfast in our current location, despite war, persecution, and devastation, in order to uphold the Christian presence as a source of peace and hope. This presence has been established since the time of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas. Therefore, we express our gratitude to Divine Providence, which, through our generous benefactors, assists us in fulfilling these missions, driven by the love of Christ.”

— Fr Louai Bsharat

Our three villages of Yacoubieh, Knayieh and Jidayeh, are part of the Orontes missions in the northwest province of Idleb in Syria. Before the war in 2011, the number of Christians in Idleb was about 10,000 people along with 10 priests and 8 nuns, distributed among these villages and others in the area.

Unfortunately, due to the war, along with the destruction and persecution inflicted by extremist Islamists, only 500 individuals, including Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox, have managed to stay. We, two Franciscan Friars Minor of the Custody of the Holy Land, are the only two religious left at the service of this small flock, victim of war, persecution, the covid epidemic and lately victim of the terrible earthquake. Since the beginning of the war, our convents have been a refuge for the community and for many refugees, including Muslims.

Many of our parishioners fled and their homes and property were stolen and occupied. As if that were not enough, from 2020, due to the “Caesar Act” All roads to and from Idleb are blocked so neither we nor our parishioners can see our relatives and friends living outside the borders. Idleb has become a closed ghetto!

On Monday, February 6, the earthquake threw us out of bed terrified. It destroyed most of the villages, causing numerous deaths. I myself am alive by a miracle, but the convent and church of Yacoubieh, where I was, have partly collapsed. I barely had time to escape.

The damage is many and there is a need for all possible help to rebuild the convents, centers of reference and hope for the community and to repair the houses.

Support reconstruction of convents and houses