Ancient Gaza Church, Built by Crusaders in the 12th Century, Attacked

A great cultural treasure of both Christianity and the whole world

by Sededin Dedovic
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Ancient Gaza Church, Built by Crusaders in the 12th Century, Attacked
© Chris McGrath / Getty Images

The Church of Saint Porphyrius, located in Gaza, has a long and rich history that was tragically impacted in the recent attacks. This historic church, dating back to the 12th century, was constructed by the Crusaders and stands as the oldest active church in Gaza, making it one of the oldest in the world.

The church is affiliated with the Jerusalem Patriarchate, which strongly condemned the attack that led to its damage. This church is dedicated to Saint Porphyrius, who was a bishop in Gaza during the fifth century. Saint Porphyrius played a significant role in the region, as he was tasked with converting the local inhabitants to Christianity, an endeavor in which he succeeded.

According to reports from The Guardian, at least 18 people were killed

The church has undergone several renovations over the centuries, with its current rectangular shape dating back to 1856. Throughout its history, the Church of Saint Porphyrius has served as a place of refuge for the people of Gaza during times of conflict.

Notably, during the 2014 bombing of Gaza, around 200 residents sought shelter within the church, and families were reported to have slept in its corridors and surrounding buildings. The church also provided vital medical assistance to those in need during this tumultuous period.

Tragically, the recent attack on the church resulted in significant damage, and the authorities under the control of Hamas have reported a devastating loss of life. According to reports from The Guardian, at least 18 people were killed, and many others were wounded during the airstrikes on Gaza, which included the Church of Saint Porphyrius.

The Church of Saint Porphyry, with its centuries-old legacy as a sanctuary for spiritual solace and a haven in times of turmoil, exemplifies the weight of recent attacks and the relentless conflict in the region. It serves as a poignant reminder of the profound costs borne by both historic landmarks and the individuals entangled in such events.

The church's history, etched in prayer and refuge, now juxtaposes the stark reality of violence's impact on heritage and lives. In its battered walls and shattered tranquility, we find a testament to the pressing need for peace, emphasizing the urgent requirement to safeguard our cultural treasures and heal the wounds inflicted by conflict.

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