Terracotta Altar Cards Seen in the Holy Land

A curious sight: permanent, fixed, clay-based, glazed creamic altar cards in the Church of the Visitation in Ein Karem, a beautiful church located on the edge of Jerusalem where Elizabeth and Zachary lived with their son, John the Baptist.

Photos by OC-Travel

Construction of the present church was begun on this site in 1938.  Interrupted by World War II, the project was not completed until 1950.  The church was built by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land and is still staffed today by the Franciscan friars.

The architect was the celebrated Roman architect Antonio Barluzzi, whose churches are so often seen in the Holy Land.  Barluzzi devoted the greater part of his life to the shrines of the Holy Land and designed and built a great many beautiful churches, convents, schools and hospitals.

This altar is a side altar dedicated to St. John the Baptist.  It is located inside the sanctuary of the upper church.  I presume these ceramics were made in Italy and installed sometime in the 1940s.  It is nice to see they have remained untouched. 

Visiting priests still celebrate Holy Mass here in the sanctuary, a popular destination for Catholic pilgrims.  Hopefully this unique model may inspire some young pastors, in a spirit of creative inspiration, to replicate a similar creation in their own church. 

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