Page 8, 14th July 1950

14th July 1950
Page 8

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People: Testa


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Will have Holy Garden' in centre

(Continued from page 1) the three communities which now predominate in the Holy Sepulchre. They are the Catholic Church and the schismatic Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox bodies.

The basilica would be formed in the shape of a large cross. The centre would be open and there the " holy Garden " would be established.

At the foot of the cross-like structure, or at the eastern end, there would be the Catholic church, the largest of the three main churches planned. Two round bell towers would rise on either side of the church entrance. They would be the property of the Church.

Behind the Catholic church, the sides of the open body of the cross would consist of a double gallery which could be used as a museum to display the various remnants of ancient shrines now lost in the confused clutter of the present crowded Immediately behind the Catholic church, in the garden, would be the new chapel of St. Elena. On one side of the garden would be the Temple of Calvary. Then would come the rotunda to shelter the tomb of Christ jutting back to form the top of the cross-like structure.

The southern arm of the cross would be made up by the Greek Orthodox church, the northern arm would contain the Armenian church. In the left-hand upper corner between the Greek church and the rotunda would be space for an Anglican church, with a Coptic church in a corresponding position on the right.

Bell towers

Behind the rotunda there would be places for the Abyssinians and the Syrians. A place for the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer would be provided nearby. but outside the main body of the proposed Beside the Abyssinian and Syrian churches, on either side of the head of the structure, there would rise two other bell towers, one for the Greeks, the other for the Armenians.

From each of the churches would go a private entrance to the rotunda where Our Lord's tomb would be sheltered. The new rotunda would also have three separate outside spiral staircases winding up its dome for the three major communities—Catholic, Greek and Armenian—to permit the faithful to look down through the open top on the structure covering Christ's burial place.

Religious worship in the basilica is governed by a complex arrangement of ancient property rights. At present, only the Franciscans represent the Catholic Church there. There are five dissident groups—

Greeks, Armenians, Cooties. Syrians and Abyssinians.

The first three communities have real residence rights in the basilica and also have common rights to say Mass in the rotunda. The Masses arc said separately and each cornmunity must carry in and remove its altars and other decorations for the Mass.

The Syrians and Abyssinians have a minimum of concessions. while the Coptics have two rooms in the basilica but can carry out religious rites only in their own chapel, placed behind the tomb.

The common right of the three major communities to the Holy Sepulchre itself has created endless trouble, since repairs to the rotunda or its decorations can only be carried out by unanimous agreement and joint financing, which has rarely been obtained.

Propped up

At present, the basilica is in a bad state of repair and heavy steel girders prop up the walls. encircle the rotunda's sagging columns and keep the galleries from falling down.

Greek monks obtained the right to living quarters and placed them in part of the rotunda, next to the tomb. Food and other necessities must be carried in to them through the basilica and the rotunda.

The proposal is that these problems should be eliminated by providing ample living quarters in dormitories and convents, away from the church itself.

• These dormitories, hospices for pilgrims, convents and shops would be built round a broad piazza, setting off the new basilica in clean surroundings, instead of the Sepulchre being crowded in between old buildings and shops of the city outside as it is at present.

The proposed reconstruction scheme would call for a cleared area about 250 yards long and 235 yards across, with the new basilica standing alone in the centre of the•square thus formed.

Archbishop Testa. Apostolic Delegate in Palestine. prepared the report in which the new scheme is set out.

Admitting that there are many problems to be faced, he called upon all faiths to help the plan to save the Holy Sepulchre. The financing of the scheme, he suggested, should come from popular subscriptions.

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