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Magdala Center Inaugurated
Event includes dedication of the Duc in Altum Church and a ribbon cutting for the new Archeological Park

Mass at Magdala Center Inauguration
Mass at Magdala Center Inauguration

Migdal, Galilee – The Magdala Center was inaugurated on May 28, 2014. 

(Click here to see a video of the event.  The video is also highlighted in the Resources section of this website.)

Around 600 people, including authorities of the State of Israel, representatives of the different Christian confessions in the Holy Land and members of the Muslim community were present at the event.   Especially relevant was the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, as well as that of the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa. 

Inauguration of the Archeological Park

The event took place in the ruins of the synagogue of Magdala which, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority, is the most important archeological discovery of the century.

The event began with words from Fr. Juan Solana LC, director of the Magdala Center.  Dr. Gideon Talgam, sub-director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, also addressed those present, saying, “This project has fallen into the best hands possible.  The developer and the archeologists have worked together.  Foreign universities such as Universidad Anáhuac del Sur and the Universidad Autónoma de México have been involved in the investigation.  This is something unique.” 

One of the most solemn moments of the inauguration was the singing of Psalm 117 by Rabbi Ehud Bandel.  The psalm says: “Praise the Lord, all you nations; proclaim him all you peoples.”  Afterwards, the Melchite priest Maron proclaimed, in Greek, the gospel that recounts Jesus’ preaching in the synagogues of Galilee, curing the sick. 

The mayor of Migdal, Israel Ambrosi, addressed those in attendance in Hebrew, inviting them to continue seeking cooperation between Jews and Christians.  At the same time, he said that the new site is a
Ribbon Cutting at Magdala Center
Cutting the ribbon (from left to right) are project archeologist Dina Gorni Avshalom, Carlos Fernandez representing the benefactors, Fr. Juan Solana LC, Ahuva Zaken from the ministry of tourism and Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto.
blessing in his city. 
A few seminarians of the Legionaries of Christ performed musical pieces during the event. 

The ceremony concluded with the cutting of the ribbon to inaugurate the park.  The ribbon was cut by the Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Ahuva Zaken from the ministry of tourism, Dina Gorni Avshalom, the project’s archeologist, Carlos Fernandez, representing the benefactors, and Fr. Juan.  

Other people who cooperated in the project also received recognition, especially the archeologists, among whom was the Mexican Marcela Zapata, of the Universidad Anáhuac del Sur and of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, both in Mexico City. 

Dedication of the Duc  in Altum Church and of the Spirituality Center

The Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal, consecrated the "Duc in Altum" Church.  Four bishops and around 40 priests accompanied him as concelebrants.  There were also representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Church of Scotland, other Christian confessions and Jewish representatives. 

Fr. Juan and the architect Rodolfo de la Garza gave the patriarch the keys to the new church, a sign that the building is being dedicated to the worship of God.  The chapel finds its inspiration in the ministry of Christ on the Sea of Galilee and in the preponderant role of women in evangelization and the life of the Church. 

"In the atrium, each pillar bears the name of a woman from the gospel," said architect De la Garza. "But there is one with no name.  It is dedicated to all the women who are pillars in their own families and who hand on the faith."  

During the ceremony, the patriarch thanked Fr. Solana, Regnum Christi and the Legionaries of Christ for their contribution to the Church.  “I hope that, for the thousands of pilgrims who visit this place, it will be an opportunity to experience God made man who walked in these lands,” said Archbishop Twal.

“We believe that, just as Mary Magdalene experienced God’s mercy, as well many pilgrims will experience the love of God,” said Fr. Solana.  “The altar is in the shape of a boat because Christ taught his disciples from a boat.  We hope that whoever comes here will have the same experience.  While it’s true that the boat is an imitation, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist truly is real, in the tabernacle that Pope Francis blessed on Monday." 

The project of the Magdala Center has several phases.  The first has been inaugurated, but a hotel for pilgrims and a restaurant are still to be constructed.  The archeological park and the Spirituality Center with the Duc in Altum Church and 4 other chapels as well as an all-faiths chapel have been finished. 

“The archeological discoveries of this center unite us to both Jews and Christians," said Fr. Juan.  "The Magdala Center is called to foster reflection on the role of women in the Church and in society.  On May 28th, we will inaugurate the first phase of the construction, which consists in the church and the archeological park.  We still have to find the funds to build the hotel for pilgrims and other installations."

At the end of the Mass, Fr. Solana thanked the architects, artists and other people who helped with the Magdala Center project.  “Working together has been an extraordinary experience, though it has been a challenge to communicate at times.  Today we are very happy that this dream is a reality.”  He also thanked Patriarch Twal for his presence and the benefactors from around the world who had made the inauguration of the Magdala Center possible. 

The archeological discoveries of Magdala offer an opportunity to scientifically explore the relationship between Jews and Christians of the first century.  Two Mexican universities have carried out the archeological project: the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, in Mexico City, and Anáhuac University.



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