“Solidarity with fellow believers”

Book presentation with Archbishop Ganswein (l.) © Andrea Krogmann (KNA)

German Curia Archbishop Georg Ganswein has spoken out in favor of promoting pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Christians in Israel need the solidarity of their fellow believers in the tense situation.

This is what Genswein said at a book launch in Rome on Monday evening. Their minority suffers from a continuing exodus and is dependent on the help of the universal church. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land were part of the tradition of Western Christianity, which should be revived, according to the Prefect of the Papal Household.

Book about Austrian hospice presented in Jerusalem

A book was presented about the Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem with the title "At home in the Orient". The hospice is the oldest national pilgrimage house in the Holy Land and is located on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem's Old City. The pilgrimage hotel is located at a focal point of world history that does not come to rest, Ganswein emphasized. He recalled that immediately in front of the building on the 3. October, a Jewish couple was stabbed to death by a Palestinian assassin. In front of the house, the paths of Christian pilgrims to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Church of the Resurrection crossed those of Jews to the Wailing Wall and Muslims to the Dome of the Rock.

From pilgrim hospice to guest house

In this network, the hospice built in 1863 – a monument of the Habsburg multi-ethnic state – looks like a house from another world. It first functioned as an Austro-Hungarian pilgrims' hospice, was expropriated in 1939 and from 1948 was used by the Jordanians as a hospital for the Arab population. In 1985, it was returned to its original owner and reopened in 1988 as an Austrian guesthouse.

The Austrian Hospice is a guest house for pilgrims, but at the same time also a meeting place and a "learning place of cultures," emphasized Markus Bugnyar, rector of the house for eleven years and author of the new illustrated book, at the presentation. Each year, the hospice registers around 65.000 visitors.

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