Melkite Church, Israel.

Regan O'Callaghan Ibilin, Israel, Elias Chacour, Sermon on the Mount church

British Association of IconographersVoluntary project for the Melkite Church of the Sermon on the Mount‚ Ibillin, Israel.

In 2004/5 a dozen people from the British Association of Iconographers under the direction of Sister Bernadette Crook worked on an Iconostasis for a newly built Church in Ibillin, Israel.  The Iconostasis contains over 40 icons of various sizes. The BAI was approached by Elias Chacour a Palestinian Melkite Priest who has lived and worked in Ibillin for many years and is now the ArchBishop of Galilee.

Elias is the author of Blood Brothers - an account of his life.  From an early age Elias had a strong call to serve the Church and after years of study was ordained becoming the first Palestinian to earn a degree from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Elijah detail 1

Today Elias ministry is one of reconciliation and peace between Christians, Muslims, Druze and Jews.  The newly built Church in Ibillin is a Chapel of Peace with the Iconostasis reflecting the positive relationships between people of different faiths and cultures.

For example the icon of Elijah (written by Sister Bernadette) which traditionally shows a raven sent by God bringing sustenance to Elijah in the desert instead shows Bedouin bringing food. This is based on a translation of scripture which suggests the word raven has been mis-translated and should read Arab.

I worked mainly on the icon of Saint Andrew and Saint Peter and was privileged to be in attendance for the dedication of the Church and Iconostasis in 2005. 

Deep in this heart

Regan O'Callaghan Altar, studio, sunset, incense

Deep in this heart this heart of stone............

In the dream I sat up high at the top of a great tree beside me a beautiful black raven.  The raven flew to the ground at the base of the tree and began to dig and scratch amongst the roots.  I  dropped down and joined in.  As I dug, a hole began to emerge between the roots.  The hole grew larger  until I was able to crawl through a tunnel and then down into a large cave underneath the tree.   It was a safe space a sacred place.  I walked around touching the walls of this mysterious place.  I felt something in the wall.  It seemed to be a small rock but as I scratched away at the dirt it became bigger until eventually a huge boulder was revealed in the wall of the cave.  “What is this?” I asked the raven.  “It is your heart”  the raven replied.

Regan O'Callaghan