Mary of Nazareth Center Set to Open

Jerusalem Patriarch to Inaugurate Complex on Friday

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NAZARETH, MARCH 22, 2011 (Zenit.org).- On the feast of the Annunciation, just across from the Basilica of the Annunciation, an international, interreligious center dedicated to Our Lady is set to open.

The International Mary of Nazareth Center will be inaugurated Friday by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal.

A place for biblical reflection, the center puts technology at the service of the encounter with Mary and the discovery of the Christian faith.

During the inauguration, the Mary of Nazareth Association, which built the center, will hand the keys to Father Laurent Fabre, founder of the Chemin Neuf Community, which will manage the center.

At 5 p.m., an ecumenical celebration will bring together representatives of the Churches of the Holy Land. The following day, the center will open its doors to the public.

Pilgrims will be able to submerge themselves in "a multi-media show, with the aesthetic and pedagogical resources of modern audiovisual techniques, and to review on passing through its four great halls the essential moments of the history of salvation and the Virgin Mary's place in Scripture," explained Olivier Bonnassies, executive director of the Mary of Nazareth Association.

In an area of 4,400 square meters (43,000 square feet), one will be able to visit the Chapel of Adoration, which has a unique view of the Basilica, the biblical gardens in panoramic terraces that dominate the whole of Nazareth, the cafeteria recreated from a hall with arches, and a shop.

A statement from the association noted that during the construction and renovation, a unique archaeological discovery was made: a house from Jesus' time and several cisterns and hiding places excavated from the rock.

The International Mary of Nazareth Center has an ecumenical aim and promotes interreligious dialogue, showing in one of the rooms the way in which the Virgin Mary is perceived by the Eastern Churches, in the Quran and as a Jewish woman.

"This vocation of unity explains why the initiative is supported unanimously by the local Churches of the Holy Land," the association statement reflected. "Bishop Marcuzzo, who is supporting the project, has given his unwavering support to this work of unity, hope and peace."

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