'Heinous' desecration at site of Christ's Transfiguration

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Suspected burglars’ desecration of the Church of the Transfiguration has prompted outcry from leading Christians in the Holy Land.

“The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, together with all Churches and the Custody of the Holy Land, condemn this desecration as a heinous crime and an act that violates the sanctity of the Holy Sites,” the patriarchate said Oct. 25.

“We also ask the police to conduct an investigation, to seriously look into the matter and apprehend the perpetrators who are culpable of these disgraceful actions.”

The Church of the Transfiguration is on Mount Tabor, near the Sea of Galilee in Israel. In the care of the Franciscans, it is held to be the site of Christ's Transfiguration.

Unknown burglars robbed the church Oct. 24. They destroyed the tabernacle, desecrated the Hosts, and stole the ciborium after throwing the Hosts on the floor.

Icons were damaged, chalices were stolen, and the donation box was robbed.

Although Jewish extremists have targeted some Christian churches and holy sites for vandalism, church officials told Agence France Presse they believe robbery was the motive in this instance. There was no graffiti painted on the church.

The church is a major pilgrimage site for Christians. At the Transfiguration, Christ went up the mountain to pray and his appearance was physically changed. He conversed with the prophets Elijah and Moses, according to the gospels. The Transfiguration revealed Christ’s divinity to his disciples Peter, James, and John.

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