The Terra Sancta Museum
The Franciscans and the Holy Land
The Franciscan order was established in 1209 to adhere the teaching of its founder, Saint Francis of Assisi. In 1217 the first Franciscan monks arrived in the port of Akko. By 1342 the Pope declared the Franciscans as the official custodians of the Holy Places. In the following centuries the Franciscans purchased and developed various Christian sites across the Holy Land. In 1924 the Franciscans formed a school for Biblical studies (Studium Biblicum Franciscanum) and in 1933 they conducted the first archaeological dig, exposing the Byzantine churches on Mount Nebo. Over the years the Franciscans dug at various additional sites and formed a collection of antiquities relating to Christian history. The wish to present their collection was materialized with the foundation of the Terra Sancta Museum.
The Three Wings of the Terra Sancta Museum
Set within the Catholic compound of the second station of the Via Dolorosa, the Terra Sancta museum is comprised of three sections:
- A 15 minutes audio-visual presentation of the history of Jerusalem projected over archaeological finds.
- A new display of the highlights of the Franciscan archaeological collection, most of which was uncovered in digs conducted by the order in Israel and Jordan.
- Highlights of the Franciscan Christian artistic collection. Its most special items are gifts of Europe’s royalty to the order.
Touring the Terra Sancta Museum
The Museum is located in the Franciscan compound of the Via Dolorosa’s 2nd station. It is open every day of the week, and has a humble entry fee.
A tour of the Terra Sancta Museum can be combined with a guided day tour of Jerusalem.