Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epiphany at Abu Ghosh

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T.S. Eliot and I wrote about Epiphany last Sunday .

But today, January 6, is the day Christians in Israel celebrate the feast day.
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The beautiful book from which the Bible readings are chanted was hand-written and painted by the French-speaking monastics of the Monastère de la Résurrection.

The church was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century.

It stands next to the mosque in the Israeli Arab village of Abu Ghosh.

The acoustics are heavenly. You can hear the Benedictine nuns and monks singing in this short video on YouTube.

"Gifts from the Magi" perhaps, near the icon of the nativity.
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Traditional bread for this day is among the gifts.

Fragments of frescoes from 12th century Crusader times adorn the walls.
See more of them in a short experimental video by an art student.

(Enlarge to enjoy the winding suspended stairs.)

A Sister in the rain near the monastic enclosure. This is a more modern building, separate from the old Crusader church.
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The Olivetan Benedictines have a double monastery; the men's and the women's monasteries are within the same walled compound, and each has its own superior.
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(These photos are from Epiphany 2007 but I imagine--and hope--that not much has changed since then.)
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23 comments:

Robin said...

Such a beautiful place. I have got to get back there in good light.

cieldequimper said...

Superb.
I always remember Epiphany being on the 6th from my childhood, nowadays it seems to be a mobile feast. Maybe it's my memory...

Dina said...

Robin, I remember your beautiful pictures from Abu Ghosh. But light inside most churches is always a problem. I would never have chutspah to use flash, so I make do with whatever comes out.

Ciel, Your memory is right, January 6. But as I understand it, Americans for instance can't be taking off work in the middle of the week for a holiday that is not recognized (or not even known)so Epiphany is moved to a convenient Sunday. In Europe it's different.
I guess that's called a movable feast. But what do I know?! I'm just a nice Jewish girl trying to put something for everyone in the blog. :)

*SparkleMirror* Kiln-Fired said...

It's incredibly satisfying to see this 800 year old building, built by the Crusaders, still standing and functioning. Especially because it stands next to a mosque -- is this an ignorant observation on my part? Do I have this perception because of media coverage here?
Regardless, the atmosphere is mesmerizing, conveyed beautifully through your photos and amplified by those acoustics (amazing video).
Those steps kind of scare me, though... it must take a pretty steady gate to brave those!
Beautiful post, Dina
David

Reader Wil said...

Perfect post, Dina! Epiphany is called in Dutch "Drie Koningen"( three Kings). In the protestants churches it's not celebrated, but of course the reading of the gospel and the sermon is about the three kings.

VP said...

It's easy here, Epiphany is still a holiday and all the kids wait for the Befana, an old lady bringing gift to the good kids or coal the the bad ones...

Pasadena Adjacent said...

boo hoo...the icon would not enlarge for me but the first page did. Marvelous. Also loved the video tour. Yes, the acoustics are spectacular as is the faded frescos. I often wonder what such places looked like when the frescos were new

I responded to your comment (but not about the epiphany) that would take a page or two

Chuck Pefley said...

We celebrated Epiphany several years in a row when our children were much younger. Different time and different life.

Kay said...

Very interesting and wonderful post, Dina. I'm surprised that winding staircase is still up and hasn't crumbled with the years. There's an amazing staircase in Santa Fe that is a wonder to see. The implication was that a "holy" carpenter came to build it.

Uh oh! I just checked up on it on the web and found this:

http://www.snopes.com/horrors/ghosts/loretto.asp

Oh well, it was still a wonder to see.

crederae said...

thankyou for this beautiful treasure of a presentation Dina.It would be such a meditation in itself to feel the walls breathing of this sacred history having been constructed in the 12th century by the crusaders.

I loved to have a look inside of this beautiful book.

We don't really celebrate the epiphany here but I have beautiful childhood memories of an aunt that would shower us with gifts on the day of the epiphany and our christmas tree was always kept up until the epiphany.
rejoice on this day.

It might seem ridiculous to bring science into this story but I read that science is claiming that the christmas star is a super nova explosion!

It fascinates me to consider that the latin loot for magi is magician, yes we are all our own magicians.

JM said...

Wonderful post! You allways make such a great coverage on the special days, Dina!
On Kings Day we eat the King Cake (Bolo Rei). Take a look here: http://news-lab.net/blog/2007/12/21/bolo-rei-king-cake/

23ºC in winter!? I envy you! :-)

Vicki said...

Such a different culture. So much history and so fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

And thank you for visiting rural Australia, Dina. I'm one of the bloggers who replies to comments on my blog. I've answered your question about the camel train there.

Hilda said...

Beautiful and fascinating post again, Dina. Thank you.

Rambling Round said...

Great photos and such a beautiful book and description of the Epiphany.

Dr M said...

Thanks for the Epiphany insights. I have always loved the location for its ancient role as Kiryat Ye'arim, the home of the Ark of the Covenant before David moved it to Jerusalem. (And you know,too, that it was the site of a Roman legion camp during the siege of Jerusalem.)

I am so greatful for your daily posts and insights. Keep up the wonderful work!

Leif Hagen said...

Happy Epiphany! Fun to see the celebrations around the world thru CDP blogs! What a feast of images on your blog today! A 3 Kings painting which I bought in Puerto Rico hangs in my office.
Hope your off to a good start in 2010!

Pam said...

I would so much like to visit Abu Ghosh. Thank you for the visual opportunity.

Cloudia said...

ShAloha, Friend!


Comfort Spiral

Ann said...

interesting shape of the bread. Is it used for Holy communion?

Anonymous said...

Our parish church celebrated Epiphany on Sunday but we do the writing above the door thing on January 6, the 12th day of Christmas which is Epiphany. The writing in chalk (the chalk can be blessed by the priest) is encoded in a traditional formula. In this ceremonial house blessing, we also ask the intercession of Sts. Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, the three wisemen, for kindness and hospitality to flow within the house and on guests during the new year of favor and grace announced by the coming of the Holy Child. The tree and all decorations are taken down today, Jan. 6.

moneythoughts said...

Enjoyed your photos. Thanks.

Louis la Vache said...

The Feast of the Epiphany is always on 6th January in the liturgical calendar of the western Christian churches, even if it is actually celebrated on the Sunday nearest the sixth. Epiphany falls on a different day in the Orthodox liturgical calendar.

Superb post, Dina! «Louis», being interested as he is in baking, was happy to read about this bread. This is a new one for him!

ellen said...

Nice post! :D