Churches and monasteries in Israel (PHOTOS).

The Ancient Beauty of Israel’s Many Churches

The Ancient Beauty of Israel’s Many Churches

Behold
The Photo Blog
Dec. 23 2015 10:37 AM

The Ancient Beauty of Israel’s Many Churches

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A young pilgrim at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

Hanan Isachar

Christians may only make up around 2 percent of Israel’s population, but their strong presence can be felt in its Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic, Maronite Catholic, and Greek Orthodox communities. Their places of worship and community reflect that diversity, and in Churches and Monasteries in the Holy Land, which Arcade Publishing published in November, author David Rapp and photographer Hanan Isachar highlight 33 of them.

“Christianity in the Holy Land tends to get media coverage in times of tension between the different denominations or between the different religions. However, our work exposed us to many inspiring examples of coexistence and creative solutions that allow the moderates among the followers of the different beliefs to live on this wonderful piece of land together,” Rapp and Isachar said in a joint email interview.

Isachar’s photographs focus on ceremonies surrounding holidays and the buildings’ varied architectural features, which reveal European, Byzantine, and other influences. Many of the churches featured were built on sites where, according to tradition, important events described in the Bible took place, including the Basilica of the Annunciation to Mary in Nazareth, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. They’re all major pilgrimage destinations, and right about now, they’re likely welcoming a whole bunch of visitors for Christmas.

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Easter, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Mar Malki Murad presides over the Maundy Thursday ceremony at St. Mark’s Church in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Hanan Isachar

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The Greek Orthodox Monastery of the Temptation overlooking Jericho, built on the site where Jesus fasted for 40 days.

Hanan Isachar

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Jerusalem, Transfiguration Day at the Armenian Orthodox St. James Cathedral.

Hanan Isachar

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Ordination ceremony at the Benedictine Church of the Resurrection in Abu Gosh.

Hanan Isachar

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Palm Sunday at the Greek Catholic Church in Nazareth.

Hanan Isachar

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Judean Desert, Greek Orthodox St. George of Choziba Monastery on the slope of Wadi Qelt.

Hanan Isachar

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Haifa, the painted dome of the Church at the Carmelite Stella Maris Monastery on Mount Carmel.

Hanan Isachar

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Judean Desert, a body of a monk in a glass casket at the Greek Orthodox St. George of Choziba Monastery in Wadi Qelt.

Hanan Isachar

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Jerusalem’s Old City, the Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception at the Church of St. Anne, a 12th-century Crusader building, built over the ruins of a Byzantine Church at the traditional site of the birthplace of Anne, the mother of Mary.

Hanan Isachar

Jordan G. Teicher is the associate editor of Slates Behold blog. Follow him on Twitter.