Tuesday , 28 March 2017
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Church of John the Baptist Ba Harim

There are two churches by this name in Ein Karem (officially Ein Kerem). Church of John the Baptist Ba Harim is a Catholic church, in the center of Ein Karem, built in the second half of the 19th century on the remains of earlier Byzantine and Crusader churches. The other is an Eastern Orthodox church built in 1894 (restored in 1975).

This is the Church of John the Baptist Ba Harim (which means St. John of the Mountains, also called the Catholic Church of the Nativity of St John), which according to tradition is John’s birth place. Isn’t it interesting that the church is known by its Hebrew name as you can see in the sign below. Crusaders called it Saint-Jean-des-Bois and St. Jean in Montana. Montana was once the name of Ein Karem.

Here old Zechariah finally regained his power of speech after his son was born, when he obediently wrote on a writing tablet that the baby’s name was to be John.

An early church on this site was used by Muslim villagers for their livestock before the Franciscans recovered it in the 17th century. The Franciscan monks started to settled here in 1674, after Louis XIV arranged a permit from the Ottoman rulers.They purchased lands and houses, including the area of the monastery. The monastery was completed in 1895. The modern church was built in the second half of the 19th Century and completed in 1920. The construction was financed by the Spanish monarchs and since then the monastery is headed by the Spaniards.

 

St. John Baharim
St. John Ba Harim

 

St. John Be Harim
St. John Be Harim

 

John Ba Harim
Two hands on both sides of a cross – the symbol of the custody of the Holy places. In 1342 Pope Clement VI declared that the Franciscans are the official custodians of the Holy places (“Custodia Terrae Sanctae”). This custody is still in effect to date. The bare hand on the left is the hand of Jesus, while the hand with a sleeve on the right is St. Francis of Assisi, the founder. Both hands are perforated – the holes created by nails (Jesus on the cross, St. Francis of stigmata).
John Ba Harim
This symbol was the Crusaders sign of Jerusalem, and was adapted by the Franciscans. It is based on the 5 Holy wounds of the crucifixion of Jesus (2 in the hands, 2 in the legs, and one in the chest).
John Ba Harim
John Ba Harim
John Ba Harim
John Ba Harim – Franciscans are the Custodians of the Holy Land

 

Outside Church of John the Baptist Ba Harim

Outside the main hall are various paintings of the “Benedictus” in 24 different languages. The is a song of thanksgiving by Zacharias (Zechariah) , the father of St. John, after his son was born. (Luke 1 67-79)

Benedictus
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
Blessed is he who comes, who comes,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
Blessed, blessed is he who comes in the name,
Who comes in the name of the Lord,
Blessed, blessed is he who comes in the name,
Blessed is he who comes, who comes,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,
Hosanna in the highest,
Hosanna in the highest, in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in the name, the name of the Lord,
Hosanna in the highest, in the highest
Hosanna in the highest, in the highest, in the highest, in the highest!

An amazing archeological discovery was made in the courtyard in front of the church in 1939, when a British artillery unit camped in front of the church. The weight of one of the cannons formed a hole in the floor that proved to be an ancient cistern. Inside were fragments of a Roman period sculpture of Aphrodite and Adonis. These finds suggest that in the late Roman period a pagan family dwelt at the site.

Interior of St. John Ba Harim

Steps leading down to a natural grotto which is identified as John’s birthplace.

 

Visiting Hours

  • Winter (October-March) 8.00 – 12.00 / 14.30 – 16.45
  • Summer (April-September) 8.00 – 12.00 / 14.30 – 17.45

Tel: 02-6323000

 

 

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