The Last Church in Benghazi

Collection with 14 media items created by Mais Istanbuli ★★★★★

14 Apr 2013 18:00

Benghazi’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church is now the city’s last remaining church that once represented a predominantly 300,000 strong European and Asian expat community.

A year into the revolution the Bishop of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church noticed a sharp decline in the size of his congregation. Previously, his congregation was home to Benghazi’s Christian community evenly split between Italians, Maltese Libyans, Filipinos and Africans from Ghana and Nigeria.

Bishop Sylvester Magro, of Benghazi now states that merely 300 Christian and predominantly Filipino community remains in the city, this stark drop in numbers is represented during a once popular Friday service. The Bishop stated that he once served mass to a congregation of 2,000 people but now there are only around 6, largely consisting of Filipino migrant workers. The Filipino workers earned the respect of the Libyan Muslims as during the revolution most the of the workers served as nurses and that for a long period of time in the past 2 years they were not paid by their employers. However, instead of leaving the country as was the trait of most migrant workers, they stayed behind and tended to those injured during the uprising.

Additionally, the members and priests of the Greek Orthodox Church abandoned their holy site due to fear of attacks. The Immaculate Conception Church is now Benghazi only functioning church.

Relations with Muslims and Christians had been relatively peaceful, yet since the fall of Gaddafi and the rise of Islamic militias many Christians fled the country for fear of persecution. A large proportion of Italian Christians and Maltese Libyans, once totaling around 50,000 have returned to Italy and Malta.

Libya Benghazi Mena Religion Christianity Greek Orthodox Catholic Call To Prayer Priests Church Religious Revolution

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The Last Church in Benghazi (1 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

Fathar Alan stand infront of the locked church doors. He does not wear a crucifix as it's iconography is very much disliked by muslims.
He does however wear his dog collar out on the street

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The Last Church in Benghazi (2 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

The Virgin Mary adorns the Church wall as the Sunday service takes place

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The Last Church in Benghazi (3 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

Leonarda 'Bing' Asibil (left)
'It's very easy being a Christian in Libya. Most Muslims are very tolerant, there's just a few who have a very conservative interpretation of their faith and make life difficult for us.

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The Last Church in Benghazi (4 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

Fathar Alan stand infront of the locked church doors. He does not wear a crucifix as it's iconography is very much disliked by muslims.
He does however wear his dog collar out on the street

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The Last Church in Benghazi (5 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

Two Muslim women walk past the locked entrance to the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

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The Last Church in Benghazi (6 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

The Hymn Sheet for the Sunday Service. it's illegal to distribute Christian literature in Libya.

More than 100 Christians have been imprisoned and accused of trying to convert Libyans.

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The Last Church in Benghazi (7 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

In Acts, attention is given to the religious persecution of the early Christians, as in the case of Stephen's martyrdom and the numerous examples are Paul's persecution for his preaching of Christianity.

As their numbers increase, the Christians begin to be increasingly persecuted. Some of the apostles are arrested and flogged, but ultimately freed. Stephen, one of the first deacons, is arrested for blasphemy, and after a trial, is found guilty and executed by stoning by the Jews, thereby becoming the first known Christian martyr.

Peter and the apostles continue to preach, and Christianity continues to grow, and begins to spread to Gentiles

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The Last Church in Benghazi (8 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

Father Allan reads 'Acts of the Apostles ' from the New Testament

As Father Alan takes mass in Benghazi’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church a young Libyan sits in the doorway wearing Adidas tracksuit bottoms and a football shirt and holding an elderly looking sawn-off shotgun.

Immaculate Conception is the city’s last functioning church after gunmen attacked the Greek Orthodox Church in March assaulting the priests and setting it on fire.

Since the revolution the church has been broken into twice and it’s only five minutes away from an open-air gun market but its priests say the only thing that will make them close the church is if the government asks them to leave.

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The Last Church in Benghazi (9 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

Father Alan begins the Sunday Service. The small congregation is made up of mainly Philipino natives.

As Father Alan takes mass in Benghazi’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church a young Libyan sits in the doorway wearing Adidas tracksuit bottoms and a football shirt and holding an elderly looking sawn-off shotgun.

Immaculate Conception is the city’s last functioning church after gunmen attacked the Greek Orthodox Church in March assaulting the priests and setting it on fire.

Since the revolution the church has been broken into twice and it’s only five minutes away from an open-air gun market but its priests say the only thing that will make them close the church is if the government asks them to leave.

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The Last Church in Benghazi (10 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

A member of the congregation reads from the New Testament

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The Last Church in Benghazi (11 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

Three Nuns visiting from India take their pews. They are visiting Benghazi to volunteer in the local hospital.

As Father Alan takes mass in Benghazi’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church a young Libyan sits in the doorway wearing Adidas tracksuit bottoms and a football shirt and holding an elderly looking sawn-off shotgun.

Immaculate Conception is the city’s last functioning church after gunmen attacked the Greek Orthodox Church in March assaulting the priests and setting it on fire.

Since the revolution the church has been broken into twice and it’s only five minutes away from an open-air gun market but its priests say the only thing that will make them close the church is if the government asks them to leave.

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The Last Church in Benghazi (12 of 14)
Tripoli, Libya
By Tripcarbons
23 Apr 2013

Father Alan leaves the congregation to conclude the service.

As Father Alan takes mass in Benghazi’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church a young Libyan sits in the doorway wearing Adidas tracksuit bottoms and a football shirt and holding an elderly looking sawn-off shotgun.

Immaculate Conception is the city’s last functioning church after gunmen attacked the Greek Orthodox Church in March assaulting the priests and setting it on fire.

Since the revolution the church has been broken into twice and it’s only five minutes away from an open-air gun market but its priests say the only thing that will make them close the church is if the government asks them to leave.

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The Last Church in Benghazi (13 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

Philip Chukiaiuma
'As you can see there are children running around. Everyone feels safe here. We just try to keep to our prayer and take care of our people.'

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The Last Church of Benghazi (14 of 14)
Benghazi, Libya
By Tripcarbons
14 Apr 2013

Nigerian children play in the courtyard of the church. It's a safe haven away from the congested streets of the city