Some of the students and guests with Archbishop Zerey, Patron of the Bethlehem Icon Centre, and Ian Knowles, the Director.Those wearing red ribbons are students. Mr Johnny Mansour, to the Director's left, represented the donor of the property, Mr Anton Mansour.
On Thursday 18th December 2014 CCHP, the Centre for Cultural and Heritage Preservation in Bethlehem, formally concluded their work on Hosh Abu Jarour. This was implemented using a donation from USAId to renovate the derelict hosh and re-develop it for community use. The Minister of Tourism was present, together with senior figures from USAid, their partner organisations, and various governmental and commercial figures. There were the usual speeches, with David Hart from USAid declaring this was 'Cool Palestine'.
However, our main event came the following day, Friday Dec 19th 2014, the feast of St Nicholas in the Julian calendar. Archbishop Zerey, our patron, together with local clergy and religious, our neighbours, friends and those who were just simply curious, came together for a service of blessing. Led by the Archbishop we processed around the premises to loud and hearty singing, while each room was blessed and dedicated to its new sacred purpose. The Emmanuel Sisters led the singing, and like everyone else, expressed their sheer delight at something so precious. As Archbishop Zerey said, "Touch the Wood of the Cross... I wasn't expecting to find such beauty."