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  • Tags: Shrine

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Inscription dated 1419 in the name of Emir Sayf Ed-Dawleh

This Arabic inscription above the interior door of the monastery was erected in the year 1419 and in it the Emir Sayf Ed-Dawleh pledges to defend all pilgrims to the shrine from attack.

Type: Inscription
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Maaloula Church of St. Thecla

The Church of St. Thecla today is a modern convent and orphanage for young girls run by Rum Orthodox nuns, as with the convent at Saydnaya. The shrine is believed by local people to be the place that the rocks opened to receive St. Thecla as she fled an attempted rape. The story is known from the early Christian text called The Acts of Paul and Thecla and most people locate these events in Asia Minor, but there is a long-standing Syrian tradition of placing these events in Maaloula.

Type: Architecture
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This village is notable for the shrine at its centre. A large and substantial stone cairn is topped with stag antlers and females in our party were told that we were not to approach the structure. The local belief is that the fertility of the men of the village is damaged should women pass too close to the shrine.

Type: Architecture
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View of the 1938 Church of Mar Elian

This church was built in 1938 over the Byzantine sarcophagus of Mar Elian on the site of the earlier shrine. In 2002 it was discovered that the cement cladding enclosed a mud brick structure. When the church was surveyed and the cement was stripped back to alleviate a damp problem, it became clear that the church had become fundamentally unstable. It was dismantled in 2004 and the salvaged materials were used in the rebuilding of a new church on the model of the 1938 structure to the west of the shrine. The new building was made of stone and a traditional mud brick chapel was constructed over the sarcophagus, which remained in situ.

Type: Architecture
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Sarcophagus of Mar Elian

The Byzantine sarcophagus believed to hold the remains of Mar Elian (St. Julian) and is covered with pilgrimage graffiti believed to date back to at least the C9th. The form of the sarcophagus is late antique and dates from the C5th-C8th. These images show the tomb before it was cleaned by excavators and damage to the grave, reputedly caused by villagers in the 1920s, is clearly visible. It also shows the sarcophagus before its coverings were removed with the votive offerings placed at the shrine by the faithful and the green satin covering given by local Muslims denoting the tomb of a holy man in their tradition.

Type: Sculpture
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Capernaum is an ancient fishing town situated on the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee and the ancient highway, the Via Maris, passed through it. It is identified as the place where Christ settled and as it was referred to as “his own town” (Matthew 9:1). He taught in the synagogue (which was rebuilt in the fifth century), it is the place where He healed the paralysed man and it is also the site of Peter’s house. Today, Capernaum is in ruins. It is possible to see the foundations of the houses and the original synagogue that were all made from a local basalt stone. Many decorated stones from the fifth century synagogue are also dotted around the site.

Type: Architecture
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Shuayb is the name given to a ruined late antique town east of Harran. The name comes from the local association of the site with the Prophet Jethro, who is venerated in a small cave shrine (a Roman/late antique funerary chamber) in the ruins. The architectural style is close to that of the Syrian Limestone Massif to the south, but is very simple and lacks the decorative relief carvings often found further south. It is un-excavated so little is known about the site, but the remains still above ground do not include any buildings that are clearly linked to religious practice and there are no unusual monuments or distinguishing features that enable scholars to identify the ancient name of this settlement.

Type: Architecture
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Bodbe is associated with the grave of St. Nino, the evangeliser of Georgia. Although evidence suggests that the complex (that includes a convent and a sacred spring in the valley beneath it) goes back many centuries, the current site has been extensively renovated by the current religious community meaning that it is difficult to evaluate the age of the extant architecture. The monastic church undoubtably goes back at least until the Middle Ages, but the chapel and bathing pool located by the sacred spring is modern.

Type: Architecture
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The well of the Prophet Job

A well and cave that are associated by local tradition with the places where the Prophet Job suffered and was then cured of a skin disease are located to the south of the old city of Urfa. The complex is called the Eyyüp Peygamber Makamı and the well head is constructed of reused Roman masonry.

Type: Architecture
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