Iraqi Christians prepare for Pope Francis' visit

The minority community of several hundred thousand was decimated first by al Qaeda's rise in the early 2000s and later by Islamic State, which brutally persecuted them and other minority faiths and sects.

For many of those who remained, or have returned to Iraq where free worship is again possible, Pope Francis' visit from March 5-8 is welcome recognition of how they have suffered for their beliefs.

The trip by the 84-year-old leader of the world's Catholics was announced in December, and will take in the capital Baghdad, as well as Ur, a city linked to the Old Testament figure of Abraham, and Erbil, Mosul, and Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh.

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