Every year, on September 12th, the members and friends of SOS Chrétiens d'Orient meet in the intimacy of church of the Saint-Eugène Sainte-Cécile in Paris to celebrate the anniversary of the association. This is a special moment, among all the highlights which punctuate our year, that differs from the great gathering of the summer or the charity dinner in November.
A very special fervor is added to the joy of getting together or launching new projects. There is no doubt that is due to the mass celebrated by Father de Blignières of the Saint Vincent Ferrier Fraternity, who has been willing to give us spiritual advice since the beginning of our adventure. There can be no doubt that the anniversary allows us to evaluate the time spent and the work accomplished; and because the splendor of the liturgy favors recollection. This year, we give thanks for the release of our four friends held captive in Iraq for 66 days ! We experience an illumination of the soul, before joining the most awaited and carnal festivities.
We find there collaborators, previous volunteers, who come back and whom we see again with pleasure, friends, editors, journalists, others, less known, but just as invested...
With a sign of Providence (we cannot explain it any other way), our anniversary coincides with the liberation of the siege of Vienna in 1683. We remember that during the fighting, the Viennese bakers, who worked at night, had spotted an attempted invasion and sounded the alarm, allowing the besieged to repel the attackers. As a reward, they were allowed to create a crescent-shaped puff pastry delicacy, a symbol of Islam that was to become famous.
Later, Christian army led by the king of Poland came to break the Ottoman stranglehold on the imperial city. The Turks had been forced to rush out of the camp, leaving behind abundant provisions. On this occasion, the chaplain of the relief army, the Capuchin Marco d'Aviano, had elaborated a recipe to attenuate the acidity of the coffe, by mixing it with honey and a dose of cream. In his honor, this typical Viennese beverage was named "cappucino".
Every year, when tasting these two symbols of freedom after the anniversary mass, we have a strong thought in imagining the faces, the smiles, the relief of being still alive, of the people from liberated Vienna. And we think that these smiles and this joy of life probably have a lot in common with those of the Christians of the East whom we came to help, after the liberation of Mosul or Qaraqosh, in Iraq, or Aleppo and Mhardeh, in Syria. And more than ever, we feel we are in the right place.