An American tourist was arrested by Israeli police after desecrating a Catholic Church in Jerusalem on Thursday.
The unnamed tourist entered the Church of the Flagellation on Via Dolorosa in the Old City and threw a statue of Jesus to the floor, damaging it. As he was arrested, the man shouted, “You can’t have idols in Jerusalem, this is the Holy City!” Police said they made the arrest with the assistance of a church security guard. According to the police, he is undergoing psychological evaluation.
Father José de Jesús Aguilar, deputy director of radio and television for the Archdiocese of Mexico, posted a video showing the man’s arrest.
“Unfortunately today, Brother Francisco Benito, a great friend of the custodians in Jerusalem, sent me an image in which a fanatic threw down a sculpture of Christ in one of the chapels on the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem,” the priest explained.
“All the different religious communities seek peace in Jerusalem. On this day, when we remember that Christ is the light of the world, let us pray for his light to shine in Jerusalem and let’s pray for peace there,” the priest said.
#شاهد | لحظة تسليم المستوطن الذي أوقفه المقدسي ماجد الرشق بعد اعتدائه على كنيسة “حبس المسيح” ظهر اليوم. pic.twitter.com/hsVC1oT8f4
— فلسطين الآن (@paltimes2015) February 2, 2023
Father Nikodemus Schnabel of the Dormition Abbey just outside the Old City blamed the current Israeli government for the attack.
This morning, a Jewish extremist targeted the statue of the scourged Savior in the #Flagellation Chapel, the first stop on the famous #ViaDolorosa in #Jerusalem.
Welcome to the new Christian-hating Israel, encouraged and supported by the current government!@ProtectingHLC pic.twitter.com/0wQ3TK9uX1
— Pater Nikodemus Schnabel (@PaterNikodemus) February 2, 2023
The incident was reported in the Palestinian media under the headline, “Settlers storm Church of the Flagellation in Al-Quds, destroy [SIC] contents“
Hamas was quick to respond:
“A group of Zionist settlers stormed the Church of the Flagellation, destroyed its contents, and attempted to set it on fire, which is a racist and fascist behavior that violates all divine laws and international covenants,” the Hamas statement said.
The Church of the Flagellation is a Roman Catholic church and Christian pilgrimage site located near the Lions’ Gate. It is part of a Franciscan monastery which also includes the Church of the Condemnation and Imposition of the Cross. The monastery stands at the traditional Second Station of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa. The original church was built by the Crusaders. During the Ottoman period (from 1516), this early shrine and its surrounding buildings were reportedly used as stables, and later as private houses