“Mosaics of the Holy Land – a bridge of peace across the Mediterranean”: the presentation of the project to the Day of the Associations for the Holy Land

Giacomo Pizzi26 October 2011

We are seeking to create bridges of peace through culture as a reminder that cultural memory and heritage belong to everyone regardless of their religion”.  With these words, on the occasion of the Fourth Day of the Associations of the Holy Land on 22 October, the architect and ATS pro Terra Sancta collaborator Osama Hamdan introduced the project “Mosaics of the Holy Land – a bridge of tesserae across the Mediterranean”. He presented this as a practical example of how cultural initiatives can contribute to the building of relationships that are necessary steps along the road to peace.

“We live in a very difficult period, in which the divisions between West and East, between Christianity and Islam, are becoming ever more pronounced,explained the Palestinian architect, who for a number of years has worked with the Franciscans of the Holy Land.  “This exhibition seeks in a small way to represent a bridge that can help to overcome these differences”. The initiative, supported by ATS pro Terra Sancta and made possible by a contribution from the European Union, saw young Palestinians and Italians working side by side to rediscover an art from the past, that of mosaics, and to create veritable works of art, representations of original mosaics from the Holy Land.

Origins of the Mosaic project

The project in fact dates back to 1997, the year in which Father Michele Piccirillo, the Franciscan archaeologist, began to teach young Palestinians. Many difficulties had to be overcome over the years, but these were more than compensated for by the satisfactions and results: over the past few months the exhibition, which includes reproductions of mosaics from Nablus, Bethlehem and Gaza, has been presented at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, in Hebron (on the West Bank) and in Mazara del Vallo (Sicily), and will also be shown in Milan. “To the Franciscans goes the great merit of bringing about the rebirth of mosaic art in the Holy Land”, declared Hamdan, emphasizing the importance of art as an instrument for both peace and cultural development.