"I can testify that prayer is the only thing that gave meaning to my detention, to my everyday life."
Archbishop Jacques Mourad is the Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Homs, Syria. In 2015, he was abducted by Islamic State jihadists who detained him for five months. For Vatican News, he returns to this period when he approached the martyr. Jacques Mourad begins by remembering the ultimatum given to him by one of his captors, "convert or we'll cut off your head".
The archbishop had to choose between continuing to "carry the Cross until death with Christ" or giving up. He then chose to keep his trust in God, and, he recalls, she "freed him from all fears".
Jacques Mourad still remembers how his prayers transformed fear "into courage". As he already said in 2016, the Archbishop confirms the importance of prayer, "I can testify that prayer is the only thing that gave meaning to my detention, to my everyday life."
While he is in detention, it is also a sentence from one of his torturers that upsets him.
"When I asked him 'why are we prisoners?', 'what have we done wrong to be prisoners?' the Islamist leader replied 'Take this time as a time of retreat' . His answer changed the rest of my life."
After 5 months of detention, he manages to escape with the help of Muslims. “God wanted to save me in this world,” he asserts, “so that I could continue to serve and to witness to an important gospel principle: if you want peace, start by opening your heart.”
But he still claims that this period at the hands of the Islamic State jihadists was "the most generous time in [his] spiritual life".