– Tej Francis



(Al-Bushra) The mapping of the floor of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher began a few days ago. The work is conducted by the Foundation Centre for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage La Venaria Reale (Center for Conservation and Restoration), in Turin, and the Department of Antiquity Sciences of La Sapienza University in Rome.

The commitment of the two Italian academic institutions is part of an agreement signed between the three major Holy Land Christian communities, custodians of the Basilica and responsible for the Status Quo within the Holy Sepulcher.

Based on this understanding between the major Christian denominations, last October the Custody of the Holy Land signed a collaboration agreement with the Ccr of La Venaria Reale in Turin and the Department of Antiquities of La Sapienza University of Rome. On the basis of this agreement, the two Italian university bodies undertake to carry out a historical-archaeological study on the current state of the floor of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, so as to draw up, at a later time, an executive project of the restoration interventions that are necessary.

Besides the great value reserved for the need to preserve the Holy Sepulcher as a cultural asset, this project is significant especially for the safety of the structure and consequently for the safety of visitors, who have grown exponentially in the last year.


98-year-old Catholic bishop overcomes coronavirus

(Aleteia) Bishop Joseph Zhu Baoyu of Nanyang, China, is 98 years old. He fell ill with pneumonia from Covid-19 (the corona virus first identified in Wuhan, China) on February 3. On February 12 he tested negative, and on February 14 his lungs were no longer infected.

Bishop Zhu had other illnesses such as arrhythmia and pleural effusions besides the virus, and was cured thanks to a thoracic drainage catheter. Doctors and epidemiologists say that his case and his recovery are exceptional, since the virus is proving fatal for the elderly and for those patients with complicated clinical conditions.

Bishop Zhu had to endure hard years of imprisonment and “re-education” labor along with about twenty priests and hundreds of nuns from the congregation of St. Joseph. Later, on March 19, 1995, he was ordained bishop and exercised his ministry until age and health forced him to retire.

As could not be otherwise, the case of Bishop Zhu has made a splash in Chinese public opinion and is becoming an example of how to overcome the illness.


Card Zenari: risk of a humanitarian catastrophe in Syria with the Church as a field hospital

(Asia News)   A “humanitarian catastrophe” is still a real possibility in Syria, given the latest reports from the United Nations, which show that over the past two months, the offensive against Idlib has already generated “about 700,000 new internally displaced persons. Such an “impressive” number comes on top of “the other millions” who became refugees in the past few years, this according to Mgr Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio to Damascus.

Speaking to Asia News, the cardinal noted that the country’s situation remains critical and the Church is increasingly acting like “a field hospital”.

At present, the main problems are in north-western Syria, where the regular army has been involved in a massive offensive in the Idlib region, the last stronghold still in the hands of jihadi groups and Turkey-backed rebel forces.

Since December, 689,000 people have been displaced, a figure bound to rise in the coming weeks in the event of an escalation, as David Swanson, spokesman for the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) points out.

The assistance offered by the three Catholic hospitals is essential in a country where “eight out of 10 people live below the poverty line”.

Last December, “more than 30,000 patients were treated but the goal is to treat 50,000, the poor of any ethnicity or religion.” Since Christians are but 2 per cent of the population, most patients are Muslims.

The work has “two goals, heal bodies and send people home and heal society.” It is also rewarding for the nuns working in the hospitals. “Several times our Muslim friends say it is touching to see Christians care for children and seniors. We try to heal the body and rebuild social ties; as a result, respect for Christians is growing.”