Celebrations after the ancient Syrian city of Maaloula erects a statue of the Virgin Mary, replacing one destroyed by rebels in 2013. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
A time of hope in the Syrian town of Maaloula as a statue of the Virgin Mary is unveiled. The original was damaged by Nusra Front fighters in 2013. Now residents hope to put that all behind them (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HOUDA NASSIFE, MAALOULA RESIDENT, SAYING: "I cannot describe my feelings. You feel that everything is returning back to the way it was. I do not know how to describe the feeling. It is a real indescribable joy." And in December 2013, about a dozen nuns from the town were kidnapped by rebels. They were released, after having been held for more than three months. The town was recaptured in April last year by Syrian government forces. Religious icons later returned to Maaloula -- after they were stolen and smuggled into Lebanon. Answered prayers in a country still convulsing from war.