Iraqi Christianity, which dates back to the earliest days of the Church, has an unlikely new centre: a suburb in Sweden.

Chaldean Catholics have long hoped that Södertälje, a town 20 miles from Stockholm, could be a “new Jerusalem”.

It is where many thousands have settled since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Now, after years of fundraising, a huge new church has been inaugurated. The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, funded in part by the Church in Germany, has room for up to 6,000 people.

The inauguration service was led by Cardinal Anders Arborelius of Stockholm – the first Swedish cardinal – and the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne was also present. The Archdiocese of Cologne contributed €500,000 (£440,000) towards the church.

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