Young people in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo filled a church for their own ‘mini Youth Day’ as the Pope celebrated the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day during his visit to Poland last week. The eastern part of the city, which has been held by opposition forces, is currently under fierce bombardment as the Syrian Army fights to regain control of the area.

A video showing the 1,200 Syrian youth has been posted by Rome Reports, a TV station covering Vatican news.  It shows a joyful and colorful mass of young people celebrating the day at Saint Matilde Church of the Salesians in the Al Sabeel district in the north of Aleppo. They send a message to Pope Francis as he met more than a million youth in the Polish city of Krakow.

Carolina Alraheb, a 25-year-old student from Homs who was in Krakow with two priests from Aleppo, said: “Home is full of orphans and widows, and many people have asked where God is. But I realized He’s still here, suffering with us and staying with the young Syrians, who’ll one day rebuild their country as a house of God”.

Aleppo has seen unprecedented suffering since Syria’s civil war began more than five years ago, with Christian areas frequently targeted. The city population is estimated to have halved during the civil war. Armenian Catholic Bishop Boutros Marayati told Fides news agency: “I was amazed to see so many young people without fear, in a city scarred by war…”