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Exhibition traces the footsteps of Christians in the Middle East throughout a millenium

2014-12-07

Although today there are those who wish to expel them from their home, Christians have populated the Middle East for centuries. Writers, archeaological discoveries and even modern inventions, like the camera, attest to this. 

FR. JEAN-MICHEL DE TARRAGON
Exhibition Commissioner
"The message of the exhibition has an educational aspect. It's about making the West, a Christian West, let´s say, understand the diversity of origins of the Christians of the East. This exhibition wouldn´t make sense in Jerusalem, Beirut or Aman... It is not necessary to prove to Arabs who live there that Christians live among them. They know it very well, they live with them”.

The exhibition "Christians of the East,” hosted by the French Institute in Rome, is composed of 60 photographs, picked among over 20.000 from the French Biblical and Archaeological School in Jerusalem. Some are over a century old, and they reflect the diversity of Christians that have proven over the years that coexistence is possible. 

Among them are Bedouin Christians, Catholic Christians like this young seminarian from Lebanon, or Catholic nuns from this school in Jerusalem.

They talk about a land in which everyone could find a new home, such as these Armenian orphans who survived the 1915 genocide did.

These antique photographs reflect the Christian presence in places that today are almost forbidden. These are Greek Catholic Bishops in Damascus. In this 1929 image, a priest blesses some Iraqi children near Mosul.

FR. JEAN-MICHEL DE TARRAGON
Exhibition Commissioner
"Without a doubt, they all want to leave, but not everyone can, so there are some who will stay. If the storm doesn't last long, maybe there will be a future for these Arab Christians, and also for the non-Arab ones –such as the Armenians and the Ethiopians– who want to stay, but the crisis is very serious.”

Photographs like these, from the year 1905, show two seminarians next to a Byzantine baptismal font dated to the year 1300.

These are images that give voice to the roots of a faith. They are images that show a daily life that, today, has been forcibly taken away.


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