In the only Orthodox Church in Gaza, surrounded by saints’ icons hanging on the walls, young and old churchgoers — along with Greek Orthodox Bishop Alexios and worshippers — sing hymns, hold candles and burn incense, filling the place with an aromatic smell and bringing more holiness upon this sacred dwelling. They pray in celebration of the 1,606th anniversary of the church’s founding, which was built in the year 407 AD.
Maria, age nine, Julia, six, and Christina, three, are all sisters, wearing bright colors as if they were attending a ballet ceremony. They were elated to celebrate the anniversary of the church’s founding. “I am very proud that Gaza has a very ancient church, where I can pray with my daughters every Sunday,” the mother of the two girls said.