Overnight on 23-24 October, someone broke into the holy place on Mount Tabor. Icons were damaged, a statue was taken, communion bread was desecrated and offerings were stolen. Petty thieves might be responsible. For Mgr Marcuzzo, the “serious incident” shows a "lack of the sense of the sacred". Shortly, an act of reparation will be undertaken by the whole community.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The Church of the Transfiguration was vandalised two night ago. This serious incident shows a "lack of the sense of the sacred, of the divine," which is usually present "in this land," not only among Christians, but also among Jews and Muslims, said Mgr Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem.
Speaking to AsiaNews, the prelate said that the desecration of the basilica on Mount Tabor, "which took place overnight on 23-24 October,” was discovered only in the last few hours. "I just visited the site and seeing the damage was really a cause of pain and sorrow."
According to the complaint filed with the police, which has opened an investigation into the matter unknown vandals, perhaps petty criminals, broke into the Basilica of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. They stole chalices, damaged icons and took the offerings from a donation box (pictured).
"The thieves even stole a bronze statue of Our Lady, which was on the tabernacle,” Mgr Marcuzzo said. “But it is too heavy and they left it almost immediately. Some volunteers found it laying in the garden and put it back in its original place."
The thugs struck the chapel on the left, near the main altar, and "set a fire because there are signs and damage from a fire."
"They took the chalices thinking perhaps that they were precious, and the donation box, which held only a small amount of money although how much, we don’t know."
For now, the main theory is that it is an isolated case of petty crime, unconnected with past sectarian violence and attacks.
In recent years, Jewish extremists and settlers carried several attacks against a number of Catholic and Greek Orthodox sites, including the church near the Upper Room, and the Basilica of Nazareth.
Mosques and other Muslim places of worship have also been hit in "price tag" attacks. Israeli extremists claim they are extracting a price tag from Christians and Muslims who took their land.
Initially, this trend was limited to areas on the border with the West Bank and in Jerusalem, but now it has spread to the rest of Israel.
"Although the incident took place at the end of Sukkot celebrations, I don’t think it is sectarian in nature,” the Vicar of Jerusalem said. “It is more likely a case of petty crime, for which there are suspicions but nothing more at present."
Communion bread was also thrown on the ground, but no graffiti was painted as usually occurs in price tag cases.
"We have already conducted a small prayer of reparation, with a new act of consecration," said the prelate.
"An official act of reparation will be held in the coming weeks. This will confirm our love for the place, our sense of the sacred and devotion to Our Lady. All those who have a connection with this place will be invited, of course Muslims too."
The Basilica of the Transfiguration stands on top of Mount Tabor in Galilee, northern Israel, on the site where, according to tradition, the Transfiguration of Jesus took place, as narrated in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
The building overlooks the square, at the end of a road that climbs to the top of the 600-metre hill.
Christians took over the site in 1631 thanks to the work of the Custos, and has been in the care of the Franciscan friars of the Holy Land since then.