Paul Calvert speaks to Father Eugene Aliatta from the Terra Sancta museum in Jerusalem, about the archaeology that uncovered the artefacts from Jesus' time and the early Church, as well as their connection with the Franciscans.

Father Aliatta
Father Aliatta

(Copyright on all photos is @NevaGasparo)

Paul: What is this museum about?

Father Eugene: This was the place where Jesus was condemned to death. We want the museum to help the people coming here to understand the place and to understand the tradition.

Paul: You are right next to the Via Dolorosa, explain a bit about what the Via Dolorosa is.

Father Eugene: Via Dolorosa is the way from the place of the judgement of Jesus by Pontius Pilate, to the hill of Calvary where Jesus died. There is a traditional way, it is difficult from an historical point of view to be sure for every step of Jesus, but tradition has kept the memory and we follow that tradition.

Paul: So the location where you are at would actually be the place where Jesus was condemned to death?

Discovering The History Of The Early Church

Father Eugene: Historically this can be discussed like many other things, but we are used to following traditions in the Holy Land. Tradition sometimes is very strong, sometimes it is not, but we follow the tradition at all times.

Paul: When was the museum started and why?

Father Eugene: The idea to make a museum was before the project of the Via Dolorosa Museum. There is a general desire in people living in the Holy Land to collect memories and to understand the significance of these memories.

Franciscans have lived in the Holy Land at least 800 years. They started to collect memories and study them, and we were the Franciscan museum in the main Franciscan monastery in Jerusalem.

It was then moved to this building in the Via Dolorosa when the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum was founded. Studium Biblicum Franciscanum means a place to study the Bible and the archaeology of the Holy Land. It is made mainly by Franciscan professors and it is at the level of University. It is connected to the biblical school.

We have a special museum dedicated mostly to the archaeology of the Holy Land. This is called now The Museum of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum archaeological collections. In this place we have a big project to explain and to show the activities of the Franciscan archaeologist in the Holy Land, mostly the last 100 years, from when the Studium Biblicum was founded.

Discovering The History Of The Early Church

Recently we did a specialised section of this museum, which is dedicated to the daily life in the time of Jesus and New Testament times, which is a little bit more than the times of Jesus. It comprises also the times of the apostles and the early Church. This part was the first to be prepared.

Paul: You have many different artefacts, where have they all come from?