Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The Church of the Transfiguration in Israel

August 7th, 2011, Promulgated by Bernie

On Saturday we celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration by examining the icon of the Transfiguration as part of our series on the icons of the Great Feasts of the Church year. I thought, perhaps, you might enjoy a look at the church that sits on top of Mt. Tabor where the actual transfiguration is thought to have taken place.

EWTN had a nice program on the church Saturday night which made think a post might be appreciated.

The Church of the Transfiguration is a Franciscan church located on Mount Tabor in Israel. It is traditionally believed to be the site where the Transfiguration of Christ took place, an event in the Gospels in which Jesus is transfigured upon an unnamed mountain and speaks with Moses and Elijah.

The current church, part of a Franciscan monastery complex, was completed in 1924. The architect was Antonio Barluzzi. It was built on the ruins of an ancient (4th–6th century) Byzantine church and a 12th century church of the Crusader Kingdom period. There is a Greek Orthodox church located on Mount Tabor as well, dedicated to the same purpose.[1]

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Barluzzi designed the front of the church to symbolize in architecture the scene of Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus and Peter’s suggestion that the apostles erect three tents (dwellings), one for Jesus and one each for the two prophets. The two towers flanking the central nave are shorter than the nave and represent Elijah and Moses. The higher nave represents Jesus. All three are topped with pitched roofs representing tents. At the ground floor of each tower is a chapel dedicated to its prophet: Moses on the right and Elijah on the left. The three arched windows in the façade of the nave symbolize the Holy Godhead, the Holy Trinity.

(Click on Photos to view larger images.)








The Moses Chapel


The Elijah Chapel







Picture Sources

–Photos by Bernie

Aerial Photo

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5 Responses to “The Church of the Transfiguration in Israel”

  1. christian says:

    What an appropriate post near the Feast of the Transfiguration! Thanks Bernie! I was struck by the symbolism of the three tents for Moses, Jesus, and Elijah proposed by Peter, (that the apostles erect), used in the design of this beautiful church. Another unique feature of this church is to have a chapel for Moses and Elijah, old Bible prophets and saints. I think it is very fitting to have chapels for Elijah and Moses bordering the main chapel for Jesus in Israel. It is not only fitting because it represents the Transfiguration in its fullness, but gives a clear message to Christians and Jews alike of our roots in this Holy Land. * Muslims also have Moses, Elijah, and Jesus in the Qu’ran. (I was surprised to learn that Mary’s nativity, the Annunciation, Jesus’ nativity -virgin birth-and ministry-preaching and performing miracles- are included in the Qu’ran. Jesus is regarded as the Messiah. The only difference to the story is that there was an Ascension without Crucifixion. Jesus, who is considered Muslim -meaning one who submits to God in Arabic, is foretold as returning -Second Coming-and waging war-eventually defeating the Antichrist).
    I am Christian, but I am fascinated that Jesus and the concept of Messiah have turned up in so many religions. At Christmastime, there is the account of the Wisemen (Magi) who followed the Star of Bethlehem to find Jesus, their Messiah. The Magi were of the religion Zoroastrianism. Centuries before, their prophet Zoroaster had predicted the birth of their Messiah in the land of the Jews. He gave them the astrological sign in the sky to watch for and told them that they would find the newborn King, their Messiah, by following the star (or light in the sky). That is why Epiphany is heralded as the Revelation of Jesus to the World and the Feast of Salvation to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

  2. christian says:

    Sorry Bernie for posting this on your wonderful posts, but I’m not sure my e-mails get through.
    As for recommended reading: A Classic which I have had from a young age which I would highly recommend is “My Imitation of Christ” by Thomas à Kempis – Confraternity of the Precious Blood Version [Paperback] Thomas `a Kempis (Author), late Medieval Catholic monk, and abundantly illustrated by the noted Armenian artist Ariel Agemian, Knight of St. Gregory. That book was sold at Catholic shops like Trants back in the day. I’m not sure if St. John of Spencerport Gift Shop have that, but they probably can order it for you if it is not in stock. Another place to order it from is Amazon, where it is listed as from $6.38 new. At that site, you can also request it on Kindle. On other sites, it is listed at $8.50 new.
    Although it is an old book which had been translated from Latin, it is still relevant today. The illustrations work very well with the lessons. I have found that book to be immensely helpful in trying times as well as putting me in check in more prosperous times. That book is for life everyday.

  3. Raymond F. Rice says:

    The simplicity of the chapels and beauty of the illustrations really touched a contemplative spot in me!! Thanks

  4. christian says:

    Following up on my earlier post, an article written by Samuel M. Zwemer, “The Muslim Jesus,” points out that despite the numerous writings in the Qu’ran about Jesus’ and His lofty titles and His place of honor, He appears to be “eclipsed” and “supplanted” by the prophet muhammad Mohammed.
    “Jesus Christ is supplanted by muhammad Mohammed not only in Moslem tradition and in the hearts of the common people who are ignorant and illiterate. He is supplanted in the hearts of all Moslems by muhammad Mohammed.”
    “Every detail of the life of Jesus Christ has been imitated and parodied by muhammad Mohammed’s later biographers and admirers.” “In his death as well as in his life muhammad Mohammed is made to resemble Jesus Christ. His death was foretold; it was not unavoidable, but freely accepted by him; he died a martyr’s death, and his sufferings were meritorious, taking away sin and helping those who believe in him to enter paradise.”

    Note: There is the story of the Transfiguration in the Koran, but -“The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ is surpassed by the story of muhammad Mohammed’s ascent into heaven, where he had personal communion with all the previous prophets, and leaving Jesus far below in the second heaven, himself mounted to the seventh, where, according to Moslem tradition, he ate and drank with God.”
    Messiah, a title which was originally reserved for Jesus was given to muhammed Mohammed in new Islam. “The new Islam does not hesitate to apply the very name of The Messiah to muhammad Mohammed, as the old Islam does His office as Mediator.”

    In conclusion”: We need to pray for our Muslim brothers and sisters that they find the Truth in Jesus Christ.

  5. Bernie says:

    christian and Raymond:
    Thank you for your comments.
    Regarding “My Imitation of Christ”: I received a copy of it when I was given the Best Latin Pronunciation award (1958-59)when I was an altar boy at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Greece (now closed). I still have it. The text is good, of course, but I treasure the numerous illustrations as well

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