An American Catholic priest who was freed from ISIS by Kurdish fighters in May, revealed for the first time that he had hidden his Bible in his anal cavity for more than 38 months to save it from being destroyed by the terrorist organization.
In an interview with American Catholic magazine, Father James Sullivan from Scranton in Pennsylvania said that he had been surprised in Syria by the sudden arrival of ISIS combatants and had to think rapidly of a way to save himself and his Bible.
“I had to abandon the clerical robes, but I couldn’t abandon my Bible. I decided to put it in a plastic bag and hide it where I knew they would never find it.”
He decided to hide the sacred book inside his own body because he knew he would need it to support the harshness of his condition during his detention.
“The first time I inserted it was very painful, but God gave me the strength to keep going. It got easier with time and knowing I had the book in me was very comforting.”
During his 38 months in captivity, Father Sullivan said he took the sacred book out as many as five times a day to read a few verses from the scripture before hiding it again.
According to him, these short moments alone with his Bible gave him the strength to endure his condition as a captive.
The courage of the 51-year old cleric was saluted by several members of the American Catholic Church.
The Archbishop of Boston, Father Seán Patrick O’Malley called him “a modern-day Christian martyr” and “certainly a future saint”.
Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput from Philadelphia called Father Sullivan’s heroic tale a “heart-moving story of heroism inspired by faith.”
The full interview will be available in the American Catholic magazine in September.