Center in Nazareth to Highlight Mary's Impact in History

How She Influenced Art, Culture, Music and Thought

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ROME, DEC. 20, 2004 ( A modern international center of art, spirituality and theological reflection is to be built in the Holy Land and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Auxiliary Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo of Jerusalem presented the initiative at the 21st International Marian Mariological Congress: «Mary of Nazareth Receives the Son of God in History.» The congress was held earlier this month at the Lateran University.

The proposed center will be built across from the Basilica of the Annunciation, occupying 3,000 square meters (32,400 square feet). Bishop Marcuzzo said that the project is intended to «highlight Mary’s role in history, starting from Nazareth.»

Among the topics to be studied include «Nazareth in history, in the history of the Church, in the history of thought, in the history of culture, in the history of Christian art, in the history of iconography, in the history of images in general and in music,» he said.

In addition, the bishop added, the center will highlight the «universal» importance of the city in which the Holy Family lived, «as all Marian shrines are, in a certain sense, a development of Nazareth, of Mary of Nazareth.»

The idea, brainchild of the Nazareth’s Muslim Mayor Tofit Zaiad, has been worked on since the 1990s, and is now making steady progress thanks to the support of the French-based Mary of Nazareth Association.

Several Marian shrines and centers on other continents have already expressed their desire to be associated with this initiative, members of the association told ZENIT.

In his address to the Mariological congress, Bishop Marcuzzo said that he was presenting this initiative on behalf of the Catholic bishops of the Holy Land, including Jerusalem’s Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah, «but also on behalf of all the other heads of the churches of the Holy Land, as all are in agreement with the project.»

He said that Jewish leaders are also enthusiastic about the project. The center also has the support of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

The Mariological Congress witnessed the first work carried out by the Mary of Nazareth Center: a multimedia image and sound performance presented in St. Anthony’s Basilica in Rome, with original music composed by Thomas Pouring and performed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as an exposition of artistic images.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to Israel and apostolic delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine, said in a statement that he hopes this project «will enable visitors to discover the meaning and joy of Christian life.»

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