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Franciscan Order in the Holy Land

But only the Order of the Franciscans earned the right to be called the Keepers of the Holy Land, and its founder, Francis of Assisi, wore the stigmata from the wounds of Jesus on his body …

The stay of the Franciscans in the Holy Land has a long history, but the planned construction of the Order of churches in places revered by tradition, began only in the twentieth century and the construction of most of them is associated with the activities of the outstanding Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi.

Antonio Barluzzi (1884 – 1960) came from a deeply religious Catholic family, hereditary ties associated with the service in the Vatican. After graduating from the School of Engineering of the University of Rome, he, along with his brother Giulio, was invited in 1912 to work in Jerusalem to design an Italian hospital. With the outbreak of World War I, a military engineer, Lieutenant Antonio Barluzzi, was sent to the Palestinian Expeditionary Force. In October 1917, he, together with the troops of the British General E. Allenby, entered Jerusalem, freed from the centuries-old Muslim rule, in order to remain in it forever.

The head of the Franciscan Order in Palestine (Custodian of the Holy Land), father of Ferdinando Dio Tallevi, entrusts him, a very young architect, with the execution of two crucial projects at once: the construction of the Basilica of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane and the Transfiguration Church on Mount Tavor.

What could have caused such trust on the part of the wise father of the Church? – the convincingness of the program set forth by Antonio and the belief that the work is perceived by him as a religious vocation and church service. In the diaries of A. Barluzzi, such entries were preserved: “The opportunity to devote my whole life to the churches of the Holy Land fills my mind, heart and soul with faith and inspiration.” “I feel an irresistible desire to completely give my strength to the Holy places in full humble consciousness, which I’m not destined to reveal my own talents here, but through me one of the miracles that the Lord can do with the most unfavorable means is done. For me this is not a daily bread but a matter of spirit seeking to comprehend God’s commandments. ”

Thus, the first starting principle of the Italian architect was religious faith, the ability to see and feel in history and in his own work the fulfillment of God’s plan. The second is the desire to achieve the highest possible correspondence of the artistic level of projects with the religious status of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, as the sacred center of the world. And, finally, the third principle was the search for the optimal internal unity of the architectural image and theological assignment, specifically related to one or another shrine of the homeland of Christianity.

Antonio said: “In Palestine, each of the Holy places is directly related to a specific mystery in the life of Jesus Christ. It is completely natural, in this case, to abandon the typical architecture, constantly repeating the same thing, and try to build an architectural image so that it expresses religious feelings evoked by this particular mystery, then the believer, entering the sanctuary, can easily imagine the corresponding gospel story and mentally concentrate on the very essence here, in the only moment of history It’s not necessary to choose first – more or less standardly or, on the contrary, subjectively this or that form and then adjust everything to it, but to determine the main religious concept of the Holy place for which the temple is being built, and to select architecture for this concept each time intuitively and in an independent manner. ”

With the consent of Custodian, his “Franciscan” blessing, a long-term program of church construction in the Holy Land was launched, which was implemented by its “Chief Architect”, an outstanding Master Antonio Barluzzi.

Let’s start the “walks” in the churches built by him …

Church of All Nations
“Then Jesus comes with them to a place called Gethsemane, and says to his disciples: Sit here while I go, pray there. And taking Peter and both sons of Zebedee with me, I began to grieve and yearn. Then Jesus said to them: My soul mournfully ; stay here and watch with Me. And he departed a little, fell on His face, prayed and said: My Father! If possible, let this cup pass from me; however, not as I want, but as you. And he comes to the disciples and finds sleeping them, and he says to Peter: Could you not be awake with Me for one hour? confess, so as not to fall into temptation; the spirit is wide awake, but the flesh is weak. He also departed another time and prayed, saying, My Father, if this cup cannot pass me, so as not to drink it for Me, Thy will be done. sleeping them again, because their eyes were heavy. And leaving them, he departed again and prayed a third time, saying the same word. Then he comes to his disciples and says to them: are you still sleeping and resting?

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