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  * Pictures 1
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  * Pictures 3
  * Pictures 4

The Franciscans in recent years

(by Teresa Petrozzi - translated by Raphael Bonanno ofm)

After the construction of the new church, another three scholars became interested in the ruins and two of them sketched small floor-plans. The first was Fr Antonio Gassi (1925) and he borrowed from the one done by Meistermann. The second was Enlart (1928) who was interested only in the Crusader church. According to him the Crusaders did not re-build on Byzantine foundations but straightened out the direction of the church, as is shown by the Byzantine baptismal font which is situated at an angle to the southern wall. For him the remaining structures of the crypt and walls would date from the 12th c. The chapels of Moses and Elijah would have flanked the facade, probably forming the bases of two towers. The third expert, Ovadia (1970), dated the first basilica from the 4-5th c.

Having finally realized their dream of the new basilica, the Franciscans re-modeled the Casa Nova (for pilgrims) and then decided on a new project: a seminary for philosophy and the humanities. For this reason they added a floor to the friary for the students who lodged there from 1931 to 1940. World War II ended the project when the German and Italian Franciscans were imprisoned at Emmaus-Qubeibeh. From 1942-1944 the summit of Tabor served as a training camp for Polish soldiers. After the war the old Casa Nova was closed and the pilgrims stayed in the wing formerly used by the seminarians. For an unknown reason, in 1955 a small medieval-styled tower that is gray in color and crenelated in form was erected to the north of the door of the Casa Nova.

In 1955 there was another discovery. To the north of the basilica, under the floor of the chapter hall of the Benedictine monastery, Fr Antonio Berardi found a small natural grotto with its entrance to the east. One interesting find was a rosette of very white plaster done with great care almost in the middle of the ceiling. On the walls you could see four monograms, a cross with four points and the remains of a Greek inscription, with the signature of the writer, probably from the 6th c. Currently the grotto is not accessible.

In the summer of 1961 the friars installed an electric pump which brought the water from a source at the southern foot of the mountain and thus freed themselves from too much dependence on the cisterns.

The last important event in the history of Tabor was the visit by Paul VI, who during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land visited the mountain in the afternoon of January 5, 1964. He was received by the superior, Fr. Ludovico Cigliano and the Franciscan community. He prayed a long time on his knees in the basilica of the Transfiguration. Once he finished his meditation, His Holiness visited the Casa Nova: from its terrace he admired the valley of Esdrelon, lit up by the sun setting behind the Mt Carmel range.




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Created / Updated Tuesday, December 18, 2001 at 18:24:36 by John Abela ofm
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