Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cenacle Site Defaced with Graffitti in Jerusalem

g.s.) - For the past few nights in Jerusalem, someone has been contriving to sow the seeds of hatred in Christian Sion hill.

The quiet neighbourhood just south-west of the walls that surround old Jerusalem is home to the Church of the Dormition, the Cenacle, and the adjoining Franciscan friary where five friars live.

When he left the friary yesterday morning, the guardian friar, Father Enrique Bermejo, found the door covered with abusive graffiti (see the photo), in English and Hebrew, against Christians. The kindest words invited them to leave. Every night the door is also used as a urinal.

Tired of supporting this in silence, the friars decided to make these facts public - especially as, on the night between 9th and 10th December, an anonymous hand wrote in Hebrew Mawet lanotsrim, "Death to Christians" with a black spray on the perimeter wall of the Church of the Dormition, corresponding to the apse. The words were erased in a few hours (at noon they had already disappeared) after the Custos of the Holy Land had complained to the Israeli authorities.

The building with the room of the Cenacle was once where the Custos of the Holy Land and the first friars lived. They were evicted in 1551 when the building was converted into a mosque to honour a grave which is believed to be the tomb of King David.

For this reason the area is considered sacred by Muslims and Jews alike. A Jewish religious school (yeshiva) has also occupied part of the complex for some time now. The Franciscans however, have never ceased claiming ownership of the premises and today the question is included in the ongoing talks between Israel and the Holy See.

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