Taking the plunge in the Old City of Jerusalem

Taking the plunge in the Old City of Jerusalem

Diving into a swimming pool can help develop the physique but also the mind. This is the challenge that the Custody of the Holy Land is launching with the new  “Capital of the Resurrection” cultural and sports centre, inaugurated on Monday 3 July in Jerusalem. A number of authorities were present, including the Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, the Custos of the Holy Land and representatives of the agencies that funded the construction of the Centre.

A plunge into the past

The Centre is in the Terra Sancta School, in the complex of St Saviour’s Convent. It is something unique within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The work started between 2017 and 2018 during the restoration of the school. The excavations also brought to the light the remains of a Byzantine church. This is why there is also a small display of archaeological finds discovered in loco in the sports centre and some niches which allow looking into the excavations and taking a plunge into a past which is still the foundation on which to build the present.

Sport and culture

“This Centre is a resource offered to the young people of the Holy City, so that they can develop the potential they have inside them and allow them to grow,” said the Custos of the Holy Land, fr. Francesco Patton. Sport teaches us effort and commitment, collaboration and exchange. These values are strengthened by the cultural offering: that of the Centre but also that of the school of which it is part. “Educating on culture means helping youngsters to cultivate an openness to the world, to discover their history and appreciate their roots.

A plunge into the future

“Today we are inaugurating a Centre where visitors can immerse themselves in the depth of Jerusalem,” said fr. Ibrahim Faltas, vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land and head of the  Terra Sancta School. The project was completed thanks to funding from the European Union, the Consulate-General of France in Jerusalem, the French Agency for Development and the Palestinian NGO Development Center. The representatives of these organizations emphasized their full support for projects like these, aimed at the development of young people and Palestinian society. 

Capital of the Resurrection

On the murals at the entrance to the Centre, Christ symbolically embraces the Old City of Jerusalem. The name “Capital of the Resurrection” recalls the history and  mission of Jerusalem, but also indicates that “through sport and culture, the young people of this city have the chance for a new life.” “Jerusalem,” fr. Ibrahim said, “is not a tomb, but a Resurrection, it is not humiliation but dignity, it is not violence but peace, it is not slavery, but freedom.” It is something “that we offer as a gift at the service of Jerusalem and its inhabitants.”  The event came to an end with the domes of the Holy Sepulchre being lit up for a few minutes.

Marinella Bandini