Saturday, December 3, 2011

Shadows in the cemetery

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We're almost done with our walk in the Sisters of Sion convent in Ein Kerem, but you still have to see the cemetery.

I like how the tree shadow bends to walk up the stairs to a door to I know not where.
(For Shadow Shot Sunday, of course, and Monday Doorways too.)

The deceased and their visitors have a great view over the convent wall to several other churches and monasteries in the Jerusalem Hills.

The convent was built in 1860 and many of the Religious of Our Lady of Sion (and some of their friends) are buried here.
No worries, the ancient ossuary is just for decoration, not for the Sisters' bones.
It was discovered on a nearby hill.


Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne died in 1884 and is buried in this place that he built and where he lived for several decades.

His last words are engraved in French under Mary's feet:
" Oh Maria, remember thy son who was conquered by your love."

Ratisbonne was born to a French Jewish family but while visiting a small church in Rome he had a sudden conversion experience.
He said that Mary appeared to him and without words taught him everything he needed to know about the Catholic faith.
He went all the way and became a Jesuit priest and a missionary to the Holy Land.


His older brother had converted much earlier; Fr. Marie-Theodor Ratisbonne founded the monastic order and gave them a biblical verse as their foundational text.

You can read it here on Alphonse's grave:
"IN SION FIRMATA SUM" meaning "In Zion I will establish my dwelling."

Wikipedia says this about Theodor:

"In the 1820s, Ratisbonne joined a wave of apostasy in the French Jewish community triggered by a sense that the Jews could not achieve full integration in French society as long as they remained Jews. Ratisbonne reached the conclusion that there was a fundamental incompatibility between Judaism and French citizenship."

The rocks placed on Alphonse's grave in the traditional Jewish custom of showing respect always make me sad, thinking about these two ex-Jewish brothers.

18 comments:

Spiderdama said...

Wonderful pictures, especially the first with that great shadow and light.
Your title is the title of a very beautiful Norwegian song.
"I skyggen av det kors":-)

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

What an incredible conversion story--no words!


EVERYWHERE SHADOWS

Shadows above and shadows below,
Shadows that blaze and shadows that glow;
Shadows outside and shadows indoors,
Shadows on trees and shadows on floors;
Everywhere shadows calling my name,
Everywhere shadows no one can tame.


© 2011 by Magical Mystical Teacher

Desert Shadows and Cemetery Shadows

Irina said...

These posts are worth to be published as a book. About Jerusalem and many other things.

Hels said...

Sad, very sad. I read almost the same sentence last week: "Ratisbonne joined a wave of apostasy in the French Jewish community triggered by a sense that the Jews could not achieve full integration in French society as long as they remained Jews. Ratisbonne reached the conclusion that there was a fundamental incompatibility between Judaism and French citizenship". But I was reading it about Vienna in the 1890s!

Fran said...

Ahhh, so lovely! And Ratisbonne, his story had an influence on my life some time ago.

I wish that I had spent more time in Ein Kerem when I was there.

Catherine said...

an effective sequence..

Theanne and Baron said...

Enjoyed your photos! It was interesting to learn about the 2 brothers and the significance of the stones put on the grave!

Cloudia said...

it IS sad-




Aloha from Waikiki

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Dina said...

Spiderdama, oops, meanwhile I changed the title of the post.

MM Teacher, yes, it was quite miraculous apparently.
Thanks for the fun poem!

Irina, you are too kind. *blushing*

Helen, yes. We have come a long way since then.

Fran, yes, one could spend a lifetime in Ein Kerem.
Now you make me curious what influence Ratisbonne had on you.

Did you ever read the first-hand account of his conversion experience? It is available in pdf or on several websites, e.g.
http://www.archive.org/stream/theconversionofm00bussuoft/theconversionofm00bussuoft_djvu.txt

Catherine, your three words can be understood in at least two ways . . .

Theanne and Baron, I will have to do a cemetery series for you.

Cloudia, c'est la vie.

Suzanne said...

This is so interesting Dina, any clue why Sion is spelled with an 's' rather than a 'z'?

Dina said...

Suzanne, I guess this religious order keeps the French way of spelling Sion.

Becs said...

Love your shadow shot, the shape on the stairs is lovely. Love all your pictures and was very interested to read about Ratisbonne.

HOOTIN' ANNI said...

So humbling, yet so beautiful!!!


Here is my link to my shadow shots If a tree falls in the swamp, do you HEAR it?

Hope you're having a great weekend.

VP said...

I am not a great fan of shadows, my perfect day for taking pictures is a cloudy day...

twobarkingdogs said...

wonderful photos! i always find graveyards and old churches so relaxing (and restful - no pun intended).

Petrea Burchard said...

A beautiful graveyard is so compelling, especially one with ancient graves in it. Thank you for the wonderful photos.

Louis la Vache said...

«Louis» appreciates your fine and historical post being linked to Monday Doorways. He can always count on you to have very interesting and well-detailed posts.

It is also interesting to read about the "wave of apostasy in the French Jewish community." (sigh) So sad. It was in this historical context that the infamous Dreyfus scandal took place...

Genie said...

What wonderful pictures, and thank you so much for including the story. It is one of those amazing conversion stories you cannot forget easily. genie