Posted by: Frangipani | August 15, 2013

A Man Acquainted with Sorrows


Well, that is how he appeared to me; a man of wisdom who understood many sorrows. I only met Paolo DALL’OGLIO when staying a few days in April 2011, like thousands of others before, and few after, at the Deir Mar Musa Monastery to the  north of Damascus. Paulo served at the monastery for 30years; welcoming travellers to the community, sharing prayer and wonderful stories. I lost count how many languages he spoke. He was instrumental in saving the stunningly colourful eleventh century frescos on the monastery walls.

It is not yet confirmed, but it was reported in The Times that he was killed this week trying to reconcile the currently irreconcilable. As Kurds in Northern Eastern Syria struggle to give birth to some form of autonomy, Islamist fighters from outside Syria have joined Al Nusra and are have begun to kill Kurdish families.

There have been massive protests in many cities with Kurdish populations, both within the region and in European capitals. But is anyone going to step in to stop Al Nusra killing? Paolo stepped in, offering a peaceful path; he tried to broker reconciliation. Until, that is, he was killed by the Al Nusra fighters.

Blessed are the peacemakers. As all who met him will no doubt attest, it is hard to believe this larger than life character is dead. But, if so, he died doing what Paolo does well; the tough stuff. Is it too much to ask that a tender shoot of peace may grow from the ultimate sacrifice made by Paolo?

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