The Gethsemane project continues: the restoration of the right aisle mosaics has been completed and soon work will start on the central aisle mosaics. The six young people attending the mosaic restoration training course, taught by two experts in the field from the Jericho Mosaic Centre, say they are very satisfied and are learning a great deal, which will be extremely useful for the future.
On Friday 14 December, a meeting was held between the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa; the Italian Consul General in Jerusalem, Giampaolo Cantini; the director of the Palestinian Municipalities Support Programme, Antonio La Rocca; the Italian Local Authorities spokesperson for the Programme, Paolo Ricci; ATS pro Terra Sancta project coordinators, Osama Hamdan and Carla Benelli and several Italian and local journalists.
The meeting served as an occasion to present the preservation and training project being carried out in this beautiful church. The bond between the church, known as the Church of All Nations, and Italy is strong; the church was designed by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi.
During the meeting, Carla Benella and Osama Hamdan, ATS pro Terra Sancta collaborators, updated the group on the progress of the project and spoke of the guided visits being carried out to the church for local schools. These activities allow for the involvement of young people and the community in general in the project. They are thus able to understand the importance of preservation of the church and, as Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa said, “the attention of the local community, as well as the preservation and restoration works, are perfectly in line with the vision of Father Michele Piccirillo” (a Franciscan archaeologist who left a great legacy in the Holy Land). “So, the way in which the works in the Gethsemane church are being carried out is his doing and we hope this incentive can be extended in the future to other monuments, churches, archaeological sites and Holy Places”.
Before the journalists climbed up onto the scaffolding to see the mosaics up close, the young people on the training course gave gifts to the Consul General and the Custos of the Holy Land: replicas of the two mosaics they are currently restoring.