Crumbs for Syria’s children – 10 September 2018


This summer a number of works by Jenny Saville have been on display in Edinburgh. The picture here, ‘Aleppo’, has been hanging in the main room of the Scottish National Gallery.

Jenny Saville has used the theme of ‘pieta’ a number of times in her paintings. She represents human figures holding their dead across their knees, as depicted in a classical pieta, where the Virgin Mary holds the body of the dead Christ. Here is a piece showing the grief of the mothers (and fathers) of Syria, carrying their dead children.

In an interview in The Herald she said, ‘I have done paintings linked to war before, but not linked to a political situation – I have endless images from the internet, or from newspapers, of babies that have been killed in these bombings …… I have two children myself, how long will it be before we as humans know not to do this?’ When I was titling it, I thought I would link it – for the first time – to what is going on in Syria.’

The gospel set for Sunday included the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman who comes to Jesus asking for healing for her little daughter. Jesus’ first response is to tell her that the ‘food’ he brings is for God’s children first, not for the ‘dogs’. She persists, speaking of the dogs eating the crumbs from under the children’s table. Jesus’ response to this retort is to heal the child.

We might struggle to hear and respond to the needs of Syria’s children. 2.5 million Syrians fled from Aleppo and other cities to Idlib, which was for a while a place of comparative safety. This week Syrian forces, under cover of Russian airpower, are making what might be the final assault on Idlib. The invitation here is to pray for crumbs of mercy for Syria’s children.


While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.

1 Thess 5:3

God of Compassion,
hear the cries of the people of Syria.
Comfort those who suffer violence,
console those who mourn the dead
give strength to Syria’s neighbouring countries
to welcome the refugees,
convert the hearts of those who have taken up arms,
and protect those who are committed to peace.
God of hope,
inspire leaders to choose peace over violence
and to seek reconciliation with their enemies.
Inflame the Universal Church with compassion for the people of Syria,
and give us hope for a future built on justice for all.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and Light of the world.

Prayer for Syria, ACN United Kingdom