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Jaffa, the ports, the roads



2.4.1) Giaffa e Ramle map 1

2.4.2) Acri Haifa map 2


St. Peter’s Church
Terra Santa
P.O.B. 8467
61083 Jaffa


Telephone: +972. 3 682.28.71
Opening hours of the sanctuary
8.00-11.45 /15.00-17.00


In order to pray at the sanctuaries of the Holy Land, one must first get there. That is why ports and connecting roads have a fundamental importance (one should consider that until a few decades ago there was no air transportation). In this chapter, we bring together four cities, today part of the State of Israel, where the Custody of the Holy Land is present: the port cities of Jaffa (Tel Aviv), Acre (Akko) and Haifa, and the city of Ramle, a former stop on the pilgrims’ route to Jerusalem.


Acre (Akko): its fame comes above all from the importance that the city assumed as a sea port and seat of government during the second Crusader period after Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Arab army led by Saladin (1187 AD). Both the King and the Patriarch of Jerusalem made it their capital.


The Franciscan presence dates back to the founder of the order, Francis of Assisi.


Until the city was conquered again by the Saracen armies (1291), the Provincial Minister of the Overseas Province and the Custos of the Holy Land resided here with about sixty friars.


In Acre, the Custody oversees the Latin parish and the Terra Santa School attended by over 500 Arab students, Christians and Muslims. Over the last few years, the Terra Santa School has been running a music project in collaboration with the “Tau Band” and instrument courses in partnership with the local conservatory.


Haifa: At the end of the 1940s, the Custody of the Holy Land built here a monastery that served as a stopping point for the friars arriving and departing by sea and also as a center for the pilgrims. Following the development of air transportation, this convent was closed. In 2014, the Custody returned to Haifa, which is the city with the largest number of Christians in Israel, to manage a school that runs classes from kindergarten through high school, with more than forty teachers for over seven hundred students.


Ramle: a town located on the main road connecting Jerusalem to the sea, was founded by the Umayyad dynasty in 716, becoming the capital of the region until the arrival of the Crusaders, who turned Ramle into a Lordship of the County of Jaffa and Ascalon. Because of its strategic location, great generals like Godfrey of Bouillon in the twelfth century and Napoleon in the nineteenth century had their headquarters here during their military campaigns. The Christian tradition considers Ramle to be the ancient Arimathea, the home town of that Joseph who buried Jesus in the tomb of his property (the Holy Sepulchre). In Ramle the Custody of the Holy Land takes care of the parish and manages the Terra Sancta School created to serve the local Arab community and attended by both Christians and Muslims alike. This school is developing a project of music education with the aim of setting up a brass band.


Jaffa (Yafo, Ioppe): In ancient times the city of Jaffa owed its importance to its being a natural harbour, albeit a small one with dangerous rocks off-shore.

The Acts of the Apostles refers to a close-knit community here of Jewish believers in Jesus. They were comforted by the visit of St Peter the Apostle, who came and raised from the dead a lady by the name of Tabitha. Here in Jaffa, on the rooftop of Simon the Tanner, St Peter had the vision of the sheet let down from heaven containing all sorts of creatures, both pure and impure, after which he set out for Caesarea to receive into the Church the roman centurion, Cornelius, together with all his household, the first from among the pagans to convert to Christianity (Acts 10).


The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jaffa (Tel Aviv-Yafo)

In Jaffa, the Custody of the Holy Land takes care of two churches: the Church of St. Peter, on the promontory overlooking the harbor with its bell tower, and the church of St. Anthony, with the parish, the Primary and Secondary Schools catering for Israeli citizens of Arab origin. One particular activity shared by the two Franciscan fraternities of Jaffa, is the care of the many Christian immigrant communities, whose total number exceeds that of the local Christian population.

In the Church of St. Peter in Jaffa, more than in any other place, it is clear how the international dimension of the Custody of the Holy Land, thanks to the friars coming from all over the world, is of great advantage in general and specifically for the pastoral activity in favor of immigrants: this service, coordinated by the Latin Patriarchate, is carried out in different languages. Together with the Fraternity of St. Anthony, the friars of Jaffa offer religious services to Filipinos, Indians (in several languages), Eritreans, Ethiopians, Nigerians, Ghanaians, Sri Lanka, people coming from South and North America, but also from Italy, Poland and other parts of Europe. Very important is also the pastoral care for Hebrew speaking Christians. In Jaffa one can live the beauty of differences in a kaleidoscopic succession of colors and sounds.


The Organs of Jaffa





Both churches in Jaffa are equipped with a pipe organ. In the Church of S. Anthony there’s a Rieger organ built in 1896; it is today in a very bad state, having undergone many transformations over time.


In Saint Peter, instead, there’s a much smaller pipe organ. It has been there since June 15, 2014. Although its relocation is very recent, the organ is ancient, in fact we are talking about the oldest organ in activity present in both Israel and Palestine: the plate located above the keyboard in fact reads


Agati Nicomede e Fratelli
Fabbricanti d’Organi
Costruirono l’anno 1847


{N.359. Agati Nicomede & Bros, organ makers, built [it] in the year 1847 in Pistoia [Tuscany, Italy]}


An Italian organ, or rather Tuscan, rebuilt by the Spanish Franciscan organ maker Delfino Fernandez Taboada, who placed it at the Christian Information Center in Jerusalem, situated inside Jaffa Gate; here, on June 15, 2014 the instrument was dismantled by the Israeli organ maker Gideon Shamir and then reassembled in the Church of St. Peter in Jaffa.


At Jaffa, the ancient organ finally returns to resound in a church – that didn’t have one- and to make its voice heard by the Friends of Terra Sancta Organ Festival.


Organ details:

Width: 150 cm
Height: 285 cm
Depth: 70 cm


Principale 8’ Bassi
Principale 8’ Soprano
Ottava 4’
Decimaquinta 2’
Voce Angelica 8’
Flauto a Fuso 4’
Nazardo 2’ 2/3’


The keyboard has 50 notes.


The pedal is attached to the manual with the first ottava short (scavezza). There is also a drum effect.



Web: //!5206



Sabin and Gerard Levi, Organ Culture in Israel and Palestine, Lexington, USA, 2011





Terra Sancta Organ Festival