The Custody Amazes Versailles | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The Custody Amazes Versailles

In lending some 250 pieces from its treasury for an exposition at the Palace of the Kings of France, did the Custody of the Holy Land imagine that it would amaze Versailles?

On Monday, 15 April, the Treasures of the Holy Sepulcher exhibition was officially opened in the Maison de Chateaubriand à Châtenay-Malabry (Chateaubriand House), where nine previously unseen paintings are on display, later to move to the Palace of the Kings of France in Versailles.

The organizers of the exhibition, the General Council of Hauts-de-Seine and the Palace of Versailles, have produced it on a grand scale. Not only have several hundred guests been invited to a private viewing, but the exquisite care with which the exhibition was prepared has given a special sense to the works loaned by the Custody.

The friars who were most closely involved with the production of the exhibition, Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa as Custos and particularly Fra Stéphane Milovitch who represented the Custody to the organizers, themselves were astonished at the result. The paintings (some of which were restored for the exhibition), chandeliers, chalices, chasubles, plate etc. — inventoried, photographed, seen and seen again during the two years of preparation — shined with luminous beauty.

In the exceptionally somber yet dynamic setting, where shadow was at the service of the exhibits and light at the service of our marvel, these objects had never been so beautiful.

See also the Franciscan Media Center video – click here

Yet for the Custody of the Holy Land it is not a question of taking pride in these riches. The Custody was careful to pass on two messages to representatives of the media who contacted it regarding the landmark exhibition.

The first is that the most beautiful treasure of the Custody is the Christians of the Holy Land, pilgrims and local Christian community, who come to the holy places, tangible signs of the actuality of the evangelical message.

The second is that the Custody merely holds these gifts in trust; this has been its role for centuries: bringing life to these objects in the places for which they were offered.

In order to share this patrimony and show it to the world, the Custody envisages a permanent exhibition in Jerusalem. This is the goal of the Terra Sancta Museum 2015 project that you can discover them by visiting the Internet site, available in four languages.

In this way the Custody intends to stretch a bridge between the past and the present and to shine a light on the Christian character of the Old City to which so many pilgrims and gifts from the most modest of the most precious flow to testify that it is here that the destiny of humanity plays out. It will also create new links with and between the residents of Jerusalem who come to discover this patrimony, a patrimony that belongs to the history of the Holy Land.

Exhibition photos © Christian Milet
Museography Jérôme Dumoux