The Benedictine Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem has been vandalized on five different occasions in recent years, including with anti-Christian graffiti written in Hebrew. In 2014, an assailant tried to burn the abbey down.
In 2020, there was an attempted arson on the Basilica of the Agony, located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem near the Garden of Gethsemane. The church houses a section of rock where Christ prayed the night before his crucifixion.
The fire was quickly extinguished after a 49-year-old Jewish man poured flammable liquid inside the church and lit a fire which damaged a Byzantine mosaic.
Vandals also shattered stained-glass windows and destroyed a statue of Mary in St. Stephen Church in the Beit Jamal Salesian monastery, 25 miles west of Jerusalem, in September 2017.
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The present Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes was built in the 20th century, though a church was first built on the site by at least the mid-fourth century. The present church includes mosaic floors from the fifth century, which were not destroyed in the arson.
The Benedictine monastery attached to the church was founded in the 20th century. The current building was opened in 2012, including a private oratory for the monks which was financed with support from the pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need.
St. John Paul II visited the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes during his apostolic journey to the Holy Land in 2000.
"We would like to emphasize that many Israeli guests are currently visiting the church and our guesthouse, which we are very pleased about. They all appreciate the special atmosphere of the place and many have already expressed their rejection of such actions," Röwekamp said.
This story has been updated since first publication to include a statement from Georg Röwekamp.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.