It is almost like New Year's Eve: there’s a keen sense of anticipation for the lighting of the Christmas tree in Bethlehem. A feast for all. Local Christians but also Muslims, tourists and pilgrims have literally flooded Manger Square for the official opening of the Christmas events, December 1st. Full story
The Israeli government has set up a new body to help prevent suicides. The country’s first-ever suicide prevention council will assist in carrying out prevention programs, according to a Nov. 26 article in Haaretz. People identified by trained “gatekeepers” as potential suicide risks will be referred to public mental-health clinics run by the Israeli Health Ministry. Full story
Several Vatican bodies have joined forces to provide a health mission for Syrian children in Lebanon. The mission, run by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Bambino Gesù Children Hospital and Caritas Lebanon, will begin in early December and last for three months. Full story
Islamist rebels opposed to the ruling government of Bashar al-Assad have broken into St. Thecla Orthodox Convent in Maaloula near Damascus and held Mother Superior Pelagia Sayyaf and a number of nuns hostage, according to local sources. The Syrian Arab News Agency is reporting that the terrorists also committed acts of vandalism in the town. Full story
The possibility of Pope Francis visiting the Holy Land next year, hopes for a just and lasting peace with the Palestinians, and Church-state relations were the main topics for discussion at this morning’s meeting between the Pope and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Vatican. Full story
To mark the fourth anniversary of his death, 37 respected scholars have contributed to this book in honor of Father Michele Piccirillo, the Franciscan friar of the Custody and world-renowned archaeologist. "Christ is Here!" supplies a thorough and highly impressive bibliography containing Father Piccirillo’s archaeological discoveries and achievements.
The Annunciation painted by Botticelli comes to the Holy Land, close to the place where the encounter took place between Mary and the Archangel Gabriel that changed the history of mankind. The fresco was painted in 1481 for the San Martino alla Scala Hospital in Florence. Italy has lent it to Israel until January 2014. This rare and welcomed event in Jerusalem has already caught the attention of Israel Museum visitors.
On Casa Nova Street in Nazareth, almost opposite the entrance to the upper basilica of the Annunciation, an old building, dating back to the eighteenth century, is home to the International Mary of Nazareth Centre, inaugurated in January 2012 after a lengthy gestation. The place speaks about Jesus, taking Mary as the starting-point.