Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre has an inspiring story of coexistence

church-of-the-holy-sepulchre-700xThe Church of Holy Sepulchre, also known as the Church of Resurrection (كنيسة القيامة) in Arabic, is of the holiest sites revered by Christians the world over.

Located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, it is where followers of the faith believe Jesus Christ was crucified, entombed, and resurrected.

The historical Church has undergone some mass restoration works, and after months of waiting, the holy site was re-opened once again in March 2017. The last time it had had any work done was some 200 years ago.

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The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is one of the oldest churches in the Middle East, dating back to 335 A.D.. Scores of pilgrims from all-over the globe visit the revered church annually.

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For the past 800 years, two families have been opening and closing the door of the holy site. After Muslim leader Saladin’s conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, a disagreement erupted between the different Christian denominations about who should open and close the gate of the Holy Sepulchre. As a result, a deal with the Christian sects was brokered and two Muslim families were entrusted to be the neutral guardians of the holy site to prevent further dispute.

FULL ARTICLE FROM STEPFEED

Thousands of Christians in Israel hold protest rally outside burned Galilee church

church-of-the-multiplicationThousands of Christians have held a protest rally in the Galilee, near the historic church in northern Israel that was seriously damaged after a suspected arson attack which included anti-Christian sentiment scrawled in Hebrew on a wall.

The Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha was set on fire early on June 17 and the suspected hate crime drew fierce condemnation from Israeli leaders from major political parties, The Times of Israel reported.

Inside the church former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah and Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, auxiliary of the Latin Patriarchate, celebrated a Sunday Mass attended by hundreds of young people on June 18.

Many carried crosses and waved Vatican flags and Jewish, Muslim and Druze clerics came the church to express support, The Catholic Herald reported.

The church is run by the Catholic Benedictine Order and is known for its fifth-century mosaics, including one depicting two fish flanking a basket of loaves.

“The attack on the church is an attack on all those who believe in a civilization of love and coexistence,” said Father Gregory Collins, the head of the Order of Saint Benedict in Israel, to protestors.

In an entrance corridor of the building, believed by Christians to be the site of Jesus’s miracle described in the Bible of multiplying two fish and five loaves to feed 5,000 people, Hebrew graffiti was found.

It read, “The false gods will be eliminated,” The Times of Israel reported saying it is a quote from Jewish liturgy.

FULL ARTICLE FROM ECUMENICAL NEWS 

Muslims Join Christians for Christmas Celebrations in Gaza

download (1)Although Christmas is past this is a story that needs to be told and passed around: 

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Happily jumping around, Ilaa, 3, drops a couple of Christmas ornaments on the floor of Hadayana gift shop in Gaza’s al-Wahda neighborhood. Finally, she chooses the silver ornaments. Her mother, Bissan al-Qishawi, laughs at her daughter’s clumsiness as she helps her pick up the balls and Santa’s chocolates that scattered on the floor.

“We have a Christmas tree that I bought years back. We are buying new ornaments. All I wish for is to raise my daughter to be loving and tolerant. This is why we are celebrating the occasion with Christians,” Qishawi, a Muslim, told Al-Monitor on Christmas eve.

Qishawi’s two daughters, Ilaa and Salma, wake up the following morning to their gifts under the tree. “I want them to forget the gloominess of war and its traumatic memory,” she said.

The Qishawis are not an exception. Many Muslim families in Gaza celebrate Christmas. Umm Fawzi, for example, who did not want to give her real name, bought a $90 tree. She told Al-Monitor, “I wanted to bring joy to my four kids and forget the woes of this year and the memories of war. At the end of the month I make sweets and my husband and I light up the tree. We are all very excited because the tree is big this year.” Umm Fawzi knows how important it is for children who grew up amid war and division to be raised to love all Palestinians, Muslim and Christian alike, and to celebrate all holidays.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL MONITOR