The Status Quo and Holy Places of Jerusalem

Posted on Feb 8, 2019

Those who arrive in the Holy Land and visit the Sanctuaries may initially be surprised – or even frightened – by the religious plurality and the different ways of expression of faith…

In the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, in Jerusalem, different denominations share the same space and take turns at specific times to pray.

Br ATANÁSIO MACORA, ofm Responsible of the Status Quo – Custody of the Holy Land – “There are many different churches, three religions, many religions present and sometimes there are forms of rivalry or competition concerning the holy places. This is caused by questions related to the claim of being the first to arrive here, in this place where everyone had their origin.”

This is how the discussion of the status quo arises.

Br ATHANASIUS MACORA, ofm Responsible of the Status Quo – Custody of the Holy Land – “Status Quo essentially means the existence of the state of justice. Therefore, things are the same where they must be, without changing. It is not a code, a legal code, but a situation in which everyone must see their rights fulfilled”.

The issue does not involve only the places belonging to the Christians…. It is possible to understand religious plurality in the exhibition called Status Quo, in the Art Museum of Tel Aviv.

Tania Coen-Uzzielli 
 Director of the Art Museum of Tel Aviv – “The exhibition is an exploration of five sacred sites and it analyses them through the Status Quo. What is the Status Quo? It is the balance created in sacred places between communities, between people or between different religions in conflict with each other.”

One of the most important elements of the exhibition is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Tania Coen-Uzzielli 
 Director of the Art Museum of Tel Aviv – “We know that the formulation of the Status Quo in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre dates back to ancient times. The first time might even have been in the mid-nineteenth century, after the outbreak of the Crimean War, which arose as a conflict between the different Christian churches. Now we know that the status quo within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is regulated by the protocol of time, by how the churches take turns in using the common space”.

Other sacred places for monotheistic religions have also been mentioned, such as the tomb of the Patriarchs, visited by Muslim Arabs and Jews, the Western Wall and the Tomb of Rachel.

The areas of the exhibition have evocative titles: “Choreography”, which refers to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, given that, as in a choreography, the different religions are alternating, and “Scenography”, which refers to the Tomb of the Prophets, given that its space is defined and divided by carpets, cabinets and sacred books.

The name “Project” has been chosen for the western wall, since the formula to achieve the “status quo” in this space has not yet been found. Rachel’s tomb is called “Landscape” because, as the director explains: “the wall which was built to allow only Jews to enter the tomb creates a strong interference in the landscape”. 
 


Tania Coen-Uzzielli 
 Director of the Art Museum of Tel Aviv – “The exhibition implies that coexistence is possible if it is formulated in the right way, just like it happens in this place which, despite being contested, can be shared and regulated”.