Forest fire sets Basilica of the Transfiguration of Christ ablaze

Israeli fire service spokesman Dudi Peretz told AFP that, “The church was not damaged” and arson was not suspected.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
July 29, 2019 03:27
1 minute read.
Church of the Transfiguration.

Church of the Transfiguration.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A forest fire in northern Israel that burned nearly 500 acres of shrubs, thorns and some trees left an ancient and holy church unscathed.


On Thursday, a blaze broke out on Mount Tabor, the site of the Basilica of the Transfiguration - the church were Christians believe the transfiguration of Jesus took place. It was  extinguished without the shrine being damaged, according to firefighters.
Israeli fire service spokesman Dudi Peretz told AFP that, “The church was not damaged” and arson was not suspected. Rather, record high temperatures, strong winds and unusually dry conditions set the stage for the wildfire.


The monks at the basilica were safely evacuated.


The Franciscans built the Basilica of the Transfiguration of Christ in 1924. The spot, upon Mount Tabor, is where the Gospels record Christ taking three of his disciples - Peter, John, and James. Atop the mountain, he was transfigured before them in heavenly splendor and spoke to the prophets Moses and Elijah, who appeared alongside him.


The basilica receives hundreds of thousands of pilgrims a year and is operated by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.


On Friday, Father Francesco Patton of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land accused Israeli authorities of neglecting the facility, which does not have a regular supply of water nor a proper sewage system.


“Ensuring the freedom of worship and access to holy sites includes the duty to supply basic services, and safeguard the lives of the monks and visitors there,” he said in a statement released over the weekend.



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