NOVDECJAN
25
201020112012
7 captures
21 Dec 2011 - 26 Dec 2011
About this capture
Login
Sign Up
About us
Contact us
LATEST NEWS
Maan residents gather in solidarity with former mayor
Homepage >
Features >
article details
Saint Stephen’s Church - a mosaic of religious harmony
Reported by Taylor Luck | Dec 22,2011 | 23:18

The mosaic floor of the St. Stephen’s Church depicts Jerusalem, along with nine ancient Jordanian cities (JT photo)
UM RASAS - In the desert plains southeast of Madaba, far from the bustle of modern life, lie some of the Kingdom’s most important mosaics and one of the earliest examples of interfaith coexistence in Jordan.
The highlight of Um Rasas, one of the Kingdom’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is Saint Stephen’s Church, part of a complex of churches built during Byzantine times and home to stunning mosaics depicting the region's major cities over 1,000 years ago.
Just as remarkable as the colourful mosaic floor is the date of its creation: The mid-eighth century, at the time of Bishop Job, according to an inscription on the mosaic floor, placing its creation at the end of the Umayyad period and over a century after the arrival of Islam in the area.
The church and the surrounding ruins of Kastrom Mefaa are a sign of a flourishing urban Christian community after the arrival of Islam; the town that was part of the bishopric of Madaba, thrived under Umayyad and Abbasid rule.
The mosaics of the main church floor, preserved under a new visitors centre, portray the cities ofPalestineon the western border andJordanon the east.
On the northwest edge of the mosaic is a panel depicting Jerusalem, inscribed with the words “holy city”, followed by Nablus, Sebastis (Sebastia), Caesarea, Diospolis (Lidda), Eleutheropolis (Beit Gibrin), Ashkelon and Gaza.
On the east side are nine ancient Jordanian cities, starting with a large double panel of Kastrom Mefaa, indicating and perhaps embellishing its wealth and size. Kastrom Mefaa is followed byPhiladelphia(modern dayAmman), Madaba, Esbounta (Hesban), Belemounta (Maeen), Areopolis (Rabba) and Charach Mouba (Karak).
The church also features an inscription mentioningMt.Neboand the Memorial of Moses, and lists the name of wealthy benefactors who contributed to the new church floor. The inner frame, which depicts a river with fish, birds and water flowers, as well as boats and boys fishing or hunting, also portrays 10 cities in the Nile Delta of Egypt:Alexandria, Kasin, Thenesos, Tamiathis, Panau, Pilousin, Antinau, Eraklion, Kynopolis and Pseudostomon.
Many of the mosaic’s pastoral and hunting scenes have been carefully defaced by iconoclasts, the bodies and faces washed away from history and delicately replaced with tiny white stones.
But the geography of ancientJordanandPalestineremain, centuries on, showing that interfaith relations have long been strong in the holy lands.
5
Tweet
Related Articles
Add your Comments
Name

Email

Comment

comment
Email to a friend
Print version
Plain text
Most PopularTop RatedMost Commented
Jordan, Bahrain play in Pan-Arab Games final
Jordan will play for gold when they meet Bahrain in the football competition at the Pan-Arab Games in Doha on Friday. Full story
Home
What's on
Home
Set as homepage
Add to favorites
HomeLocalBaptism Site revenues drop by 30% Fuheis Christmas tree lit Prince Hassan attends Havel’s funeral Eight hospitalised for gas inhalation JPA objects to manner of Maaytah’s departure from Al Rai Police disperses Islamist protesters ‘attempting to storm Prime Ministry’More...RegionWest Bank Christians pray for threatened valley ‘A woman’s touch evident in Arab Spring’ Egypt Islamists continue gains in 2nd round voteSatire flourishes in Syria as violence intensifies ‘No room at the inn’ as Bethlehem celebrates Christmas Egypt Islamists continue gains in 2nd round voteMore...WorldKremlin panel urges new polls, firing of election chief Pakistan PM welcomes army statement on coup rumours Kremlin panel urges new polls, firing of election chief More...BusinessToyota eyes 20 per cent global sales growth in 2012‘2011 will carry highest economic losses in history’Economists dispute 2012 draft budget lawToyota eyes 20 per cent global sales growth in 2012More...Sports12th Pan-Arab Games wraps up12th Pan-Arab Games wraps upMore...FeaturesJourney of faith brings Swiss pilgrims to JordanMore...LettersA matter of perception More...OpinionWhat's On