The church in Gaza: home of kindness and brotherhood

Posted on Jan 24, 2020

HE Mgr PIERBATTISTA PIZZABALLA, ofm
Apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
” We are not a large number, but we are like salt… This salt gives food a new flavour, and that is our role as Christians. First, we must stay here and bring dynamism, dialogue, encounters and courage for the future to rebuild a society as strong as it was before, as we have always done in the past.”

The Christian presence in the Holy Land is characterized by the depth of its roots. The Church has been at the service of the human being throughout the centuries regardless of religion or belief. In Gaza, Sister Delphina, head of the Community of the Sisters of Charity, who assists about seventy disabled Muslims in their homes, tells us: “I live for them every day, and the greater the effort we make for them, the greater the joy … I feel what every mother feels for her children.”

Fr MARIO DA SILVA
The former parish priest of Gaza
“I used to say that the entire Gaza Strip knows the Christian community thanks to the work of the Sisters of Charity who have been here for thirty years. Holy Mother Teresa came here personally to open this house, and this is a great blessing for us. The Sisters work especially in social welfare, for the poorest of the poor”.

“The poor are wonderful, the poor are exceptional, the poor are generous! They give us more than we give them.”

Mother Teresa said. In the same way, the Sisters of Charity look for the poorest of the poor to serve them. The congregation is present in places where the war prevails and with courage it spreads peace, coexistence and love for others.

This form of charity and benevolence is also found in the Greek Orthodox Church of San Porfirio, in the heart of the old city of Gaza. During the last war in 2014, the church welcomed and supported six hundred and fifty Muslims, who fled their homes due to the bombing of the city for more than 50 days.

HE Archbishop ALEXIOS
Head of the monastery of Saint Porphyry
“Many people from this region, especially from the regions of Shuja’ia, Rafah, Zaytun, Beit Hanoun and Khan Yunis, have come to the door of this monastery in search of asylum. We opened the doors for them. We accepted them and they stayed with us for more than 50 days. More than 650 people, mostly children and women slept inside this monastery. One of them was born here inside the church during the clashes. A woman gave birth to a child, right here inside the church. ”

The church of St. Porphyry for the Greek Orthodox is one of the first and oldest churches in Gaza: it was built in the 4th century AD.

A wall and five meters separate it from the Kateb Wilayat Mosque in the Zeitoun district.

NABIL SALAH AL-MUZAINI
Resident in the district of Az-Zaytoun
“The mosque is separated from the church by a wall, and the church bell embraces the minaret of the mosque. This is an important indication of tolerance between Muslims and Christians throughout the centuries in Palestine in general and Gaza in particular. There is a fraternal and distinctive relationship between the citizens of our land, the only difference is represented by the Christian or Islamic rites”.

At all times and in all places, the Church was and remains a shelter for the homeless.