12 July 2017

The Kathisma Church: memory of the place where Our Lady rested

We are visiting the Church of Kathisma, which preserves the place where, according to Tradition, Our Lady rested with Joseph on the path to Bethlehem.

Archaeology, Culture, and other Religions

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The ruins of the Kathisma Church are situated on the road that leads to Bethlehem, from Jerusalem. It is a place venerated since antiquity, but it has been forgotten for a long time.

Fr. EUGENIO ALLIATA, ofm
Archeologist Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"Unfortunately, it is a forgotten site in a poor state of preservation.”

Father Eugenio Alliata, an expert in Christian archeology, spoke about this topic.

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Archaeological excavations made 25 years ago revealed some fragments of mosaics. They were later rearranged and covered to be protected.

The building was octagonal ...

Father EUGENIO ALLIATA, ofm
Archeologist Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"The church has a special octagonal shape: actually two octagons, a smaller one and a bigger one are joined together. Both are centered around a rock that protrudes nearly into the floor level.”

The particular position of this rock indicates its original importance.

Father EUGENIO ALLIATA, ofm
Archeologist Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
"This story is found in an apocryphal gospel, called the protovangelium of James, a very famous Christian text which tells that Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem when Jesus was about to be born: Mary was on the donkey, while Joseph led the way. Mary had visions: she saw two peoples, one was laughing while the other cried. Christians interpreted that the people crying were the Jews, because they did not believe in the Messiah, and the people who were laughing are Christians who did believe in the Messiah. Mary was tired and asked to get off the donkey; Joseph helped her off the donkey and inside a cave. There is a rock in the center of the church that I think is the last reminder of Mary's rest. What is the meaning of the word Kathisma? In Greek, Khatisma means the place where Mary sat.”

Around the Church, there were numerous chapels decorated with colorful and precious mosaics, protected by the sand that covered them ....

True 'Living Stones' that welcomed the Mother of Christ which still reveal the importance of the first Marian devotion!