Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jerusalem's Christian treasures take a trip back home to Europe (until July 14)

UPDATE 2, April 19:   A short video by the Franciscan Media Center  about the Treasure of the Holy Sepulchre exhibit became available just now:
You can choose your language. 

Recently I ventured into this nice Franciscan museum  in the Old City for the first time.

This old (17th century?)  scale model*  of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, crafted from olive wood, ebony, and ivory, is one of the many unusual things on display.

It's a good thing I saw this while it was still in Jerusalem, because recently it and 250 other "unknown" Christian masterpieces were carefully crated up and shipped to Europe and as of yesterday are  being shown at the Chateau de Versailles!
Yes, in Paris!

You can click to read more about it,  see a slideshow, and  view a video at the website of the Palace:

And the Custody of the Holy Land explains it thus: 

The Treasure of the Holy Sepulchre in Paris

Paris, 16th April 2013

An important exhibition of Christian treasures from Jerusalem opens today in Versailles, in the presence of the Custos of the Holy Land, Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Guardian of Bethlehem, Fra Stéphane Milovitch and the Franciscan friars of the Commissary of Paris.

The Halls of the Crusades in the Palace of Versailles, just outside Paris, house an exhibition called Treasure of the Holy Sepulchre. Gifts from European Royal Courts to Jerusalem from 16th April to 14th July.
This is a particular event: for the first time 250 “unknown” masterpieces that were sent to Jerusalem over the centuries are on display in one place. They are offered to the public for three months by the Friars Minor of the Custody of the Holy Land, who still use many of these precious implements at the most solemn celebrations in the basilica which encloses the Calvary and the empty tomb of our Risen Lord.

The pieces are sumptuous chalices, crucifixes, lamps, candelabra, ciboria and liturgical vestments given by European sovereigns as a mark of devotion to the Saviour, but also to assert the power of their lineage and nation.

The works will be displayed according to their origin – in particular from the Holy Roman Empire, the kingdoms of Spain, France and Portugal, the Republic of Genoa – showing how the European court rivalled in generosity.

Open every day, except Monday, from 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., the exhibition is organized in collaboration with the General Council of the Hauts-de-Seine Department and also has a second venue: the House of Chateaubriand, in Châtenay-Malabry. Here the public will be able to admire nine pictures, also belonging to the Custody. The lengthy work of preparation for the Paris exhibition began three years ago and in the end will also be of benefit for the nascent Terra Sancta Museum, which the Custody intends opening in Jerusalem in 2015.
* UPDATE: Meanwhile I find this good information at

 A striking example of more recent Palestinian art occupies the central spot of the northern hall. It is a small model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with inlaid work, in olive wood and mother of pearl, from the 17th-18th century.
The model represents the Basilica of the Resurrection after the Crusader restoration of the 12th Century, separated from the surrounding buildings. During the 17th century a number of similar devotional objects were produced by craftsmen in Bethlehem and sold to western pilgrims as souvernirs of their pilgrimage. 
The craftsmen based their work on the detailed plans of the sacred edifice drawn and published by the Franciscan Architect Fr. Bernardin Amico, who served the monasteries of Bethlehem and Jerusalem from 1593 to 1597.
Various sections of the roofing can be lifted, so that the inside can be seen.
 The model which is one of best preserved, is an excellent example of the type of work initiated by the Franciscans in Bethlehem, in the handicraft of applying mother of pearl inlay to olive wood.


  1. Friends--if you go through the slideshow of the treasures I linked to, you'll even see the sword said to have belonged to Godfrey of Bouillon!

  2. The only year we won't probably go to Paris...

  3. Thanks. I would love to see the exhibition in Paris but the closing date might be too early. That catalogue looks informative and aesthetically pleasing, so I will try and buy a copy.

  4. Wow - how did I miss that museum? No trip to Israel, or Paris for me at the moment; too bad, I'd love to see both again.

    Thanks as always, Dina!

  5. and you are getting a new museum out of this tour. these treasures are serving you well.
    now to see the slideshow (since I will not be in Paris this year - maybe Jerusalem in 2015?)

  6. Thank you for sharing this news. Unfortunately I can't be in Israel right now, but it's a pleasure to make a virtual trip.
    Best regards

  7. i love wandering through museums!

  8. If I can choose between Jerusalem and Paris, forever Jerusalem. Hope I get to see it:-)

  9. You have so many wonderful museums in Israel, Dina. It's wonderful that they are willing to share their treasures with the rest of the world.


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