Sunday, January 17, 2021

Church of the Ten Lepers in Burqin, Palestine

 
According to Christian tradition, Burqin is the place in "the region between Samaria and Galilee" where the miracle from Luke 17:11-19 took place: Jesus was passing through on his way from Galilee to Jerusalem when he heard cries for help from ten lepers who were living isolated nearby. He encountered them and told them to present themselves to the priests, although they were not yet cured. On their way their leprosy disappeared. One of them, a Samaritan, returned to Jesus to give thanks. Jesus blamed the nine who did not recognize that their healing was God's gift, faith being the real salvation. Since this miracle, the current Church of the Ten Lepers, also known as the Monastery of Saint George, became a station for many Christian pilgrims.

The Church of the Ten Lepers is both considered the location of the miracle as well as the location of the cave the ten lepers lived in. The cave where the miracle allegedly took place appears to be a Roman cistern and has an opening at the top. Today it contains an altar and has a stone wall at the entrance. The first church was built over the cave during the Byzantine period. Tradition has it that it was built by Saint Helen in the fourth century. During the 6th–9th centuries the church was extended with an additional building. Afterwards the church was abandoned for unapparent reasons. The church was renovated during the Crusader period in the twelfth century and enclosed by a stone wall. After the thirteenth century the church was rebuilt and rededicated as a school for 120 years.

Today, it is a Greek Orthodox Church under the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and it is composed of the lepers' cave and an 18th-century hall and nave. It even has the small opening where people use to pass food into the cave for the ten lepers to eat. Burqin has 7,000 residents, with only 60 who are Greek Orthodox faithful that have the church as their parish. Due to it being an hour and a half away from Jerusalem, pilgrims today do not often visit this church, but the Mayor and residents hope to get the word out to bring more people to the town.

  

  
 
  


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