Israeli archaeologists uncover 'oldest church'

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered near a prison what they believe could be the oldest church ever found in the Holy Land - a discovery that experts say may shed new light on early Christianity.

CLICK HEREEcumenical News International reports that the structure was discovered in Megiddo, lower Galilee, near a site traditionally believed to be the Armageddon described in the New Testament's Book of Revelation, where the final battle between good and evil is prophesied to occur.

Dating back to around the third century, the church was discovered during an archaeological dig in the grounds of the Megiddo Prison where Israel jails hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners along with ordinary convicts. Inmates detailed to work on an excavation discovered it.

The small, rectangular building lacks the characteristics of later churches. But it contains mosaics said to be breathtaking including one of a fish design. It also contains a Greek inscription that mentions a woman called Ekeptos who "donated this table to the God Jesus Christ in commemoration".

"It's a historic discovery that serves as confirmation to Christians all over the world," Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's envoy to the Holy Land, told Israeli television.

It appears that a table rather than an altar stood at the centre of the church at which a sacred meal was held to commemorate the Last Supper of Jesus. Researchers said the apparent use of a table sheds new light on early Christian rituals. "This is a unique and important structure that expands our understanding of the early period of Christianity as a recognised and official religion," said Jotham Tefer, who supervised the excavation.

Israeli archaeologists uncover 'oldest church' in Holy Land at prison (Ecumenical News International 8/11/05)

Kasper and Israel president deny Last Supper Room 'site swap' (CathNews 4/11/05)

Holy Land is safe for pilgrims, says custodian of holy places (Catholic News Service 7/11/05)
Holy Land Archeologists uncover what may be earliest church in world, Vatican hails as 'great discovery' (Catholic News Agency 8/11/05)
Israeli archaeologists uncover 'oldest church' in Holy Land at prison (Ecumenical News International 7/11/05)
Holy Land's 'oldest church' found at Armageddon (The Guardian 7/11/05)
Israel-Vatican relations need a new stage (AsiaNews.it 8/11/05)
Christian Zionism: End Game (Vatican Radio English Features 8/11/05, audio - requires Real Player)
John L Allen: Vatican reacts to violence in Israel/Palestine (National Catholic Reporter 4/11/05)
Holy See will ask Israel that 'Upper Room' passes under Catholic supervision (Catholic News Agency 4/11/05)
Jerusalem paper denies agreement on control of Last Supper site (Catholic World News 4/11/05)
In brief: Holocaust Remembrance; Palestinial Christians (Vatican Information Service 3/11/05)
Katsav, papal official deny 'site swap' (Committee to Save Mt Zion)
USCCB condemns anti-Israel comments (Catholic News Agency 3/11/05)
Time has come for two states in the Holy Land, says Vatican official (Catholic News Agency 3/11/05)
Israeli group launches court appeal for Arabs during Muslim feast (Ecumenical News International 3/11/05)
Vatican's UN envoy makes plea for Holy Land Christians (Ecumenical News International 3/11/05)
AJC asks Catholics not to convert Jews (Jerusalem Post 27/10/05)
Holy See backs U.N. on "Holocaust Remembrance Day" (The Universe 3/11/05)
Holy See Backs U.N. on "Holocaust Remembrance Day" (Zenit 2/11/05)
Plight of Palestinian Christians Lamented (Zenit 2/11/05)
Holy See Address on Plight of Palestinian Christians (Zenit 2/11/05)
Holy See's U.N. Address on Holocaust Remembrance (Zenit 2/11/05)
Christian-Jewish relations: From tragedy to possibility (Online Catholics 2/11/05)

9 Nov 2005