|When I was a kid I swapped football cards. I know tend to swap more mundane things like insurance details, expense forms and cleaning duties. I used to love swaps. But this is the king of all swaps.|
THE Vatican is hoping to regain control of the Room of the Last Supper in Jerusalem, one of the most sacred sites in Christianity. If anyone still has an Italian crest on silver foil for Panini's World Cup '90 sticker book let me know.
It will, in exchange, hand over to the Jewish community the historic synagogue at Toledo in Spain, at present a Catholic church.
The proposals, contained in a draft agreement between the Israeli Government and the Vatican, come on the eve of a state visit to the Vatican next month by President Katzav. Final details on a long-delayed accord on the status of Roman Catholic properties in the Holy Land are expected to be agreed during the visit, marking a new era of reconciliation between Christians and Jews after centuries of hostility.
The Upper Room, where the Last Supper is said to have taken place, is held by Christians to be the place where Jesus broke bread and drank wine with the disciples on the eve of his Crucifixion and also where the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost.
The Last Supper has become an iconic Christian image, painted most famously by Leonardo. The Room of the Last Supper is the fourth most holy place in Christendom after the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, built over Christ’s tomb, the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, where the Virgin Mary was told by an angel she was to give birth, and the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem, where the birth took place.
The present Gothic-arched room is not the original but was built by the Crusaders in the 14th century. It was taken over in 1342 by the Franciscans, the Catholic custodians of Christian sites in the Holy Land.
Along with the rest of Jerusalem, it fell to the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century and was transformed into a mosque, whose Arabic inscriptions are still visible. Since the foundation of Israel the area has served as the site of Jewish yeshivas, or religious schools, since Jews believe that the Tomb of King David lies beneath the spot.
Il Messaggero, the Rome daily, said possible reciprocal gestures include the return to Jewish control of the 12th-century synagogue in Toledo, which, after the suppression of Judaism in Spain in the 15th century, became the Church of Santa María La Blanca.