St John’s Sanctuary in Ain Karen: work to build a new welcome room for pilgrims

Giacomo Pizzi14 April 2014

Work to build a new multi-functional reception room at the St John Sanctuary in Aim Karem, near Jerusalem, is progressing at a steady pace.

The room, designed to welcome groups pf pilgrims who visit the sanctuary daily, is partially underground and, in the past, has been used as a storeroom, workshop and subsequently abandoned. Work thus began by clearing the area of the large quantity of ruins and wreckages that had built up. Then, the old flooring was removed and stored to be reused in one of the final stages of the works. The workers, who have now finished cleaning the surfaces and preparing for the new flooring base, are busy constructing the electricity and water systems, and regrouting the stone. The next task is plastering the vaults.

Thanks to the restoration work undertaken by the Custody of the Holy Land, through the work of those involved in the “Jerusalem, Stones of Memoryproject, supported by ATS pro terra Sancta, the space is regaining its original appearance, which had been lost owing to neglect. The fine structure, composed of crossed arches and vaults, constructed at the start of the 1900s, is supported by pillars and masonry work in large blocks of local stone, cut and positioned with great skill by stonemasons. At the start of the last century, the latter were trained and employed to work in the S. Salvatore workshops. Today, the workers from the Custody Technical Office are lucky and privileged enough to be able to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors, working with the same stone that will be left on show inside this new wonderful space.