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26 December 2011

Terra Sancta College - Jerusalem

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Terra Sancta College
- Keren Hayesod Street
- P. O.B. 871
- 91008 Jerusalem
- ISRAEL

Tel: +972.2 5398.300 (switchboard)
- +972.2 5398.313 (superior)
- +972.2 5398.350 (sisters)
- Fax: +972.2 5398.303

Franciscan Holy Land Foundation
- Tel: +972. 2 5398.348
- Fax: +972. 2 5665.134

Franciscan Media Center
- Tel: +972. 2 563.96.61
- Fax: +972. 2 566.95.53
- Email: director.fmc@custodia.org

The history of the house

The complex of the Terra Sancta College was built in 1926 on the top of a hill amidst the first buildings of the Jewish quarter of Rehavia and the first houses in the Arab quarter of Talbieh built in 1923.

The main four-storey building was designed by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi in a symmetrical monumental style and with a structure typical of late 19th century neo-classic architecture. The Chapel and a hall of residence built in 1933 are adjacent to the main building.

The sheer size and the position on a corner of one of the city’s main crossroads give the building an impressive appearance. A tower surmounted by a statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, a replica of the “Madonnina” on the spire of the Cathedral of Milan, adds to the majesty of the building.

The complex, built by the Society of St. Paul of Milan, was known as “Opera Cardinal Ferrari” and was used as a school for two and a half years before being closed due to financial difficulties. The institution was taken over by the Custody of the Holy Land which, in October 1929, opened the College with the Preparatory and Secondary School open to “young people of a good disposition and intelligence… of every creed and nationality.” The majority of the pupils were boys. In 1942, there were 475 pupils of different religions and nationalities – Christian and Muslim Arabs, Armenians and Jews – and the College remained open for eighteen years (1929-1947).

The organization, syllabi and activities reflected the system of British state schools. Alongside the scholastic programme, many other sporting, cultural, social and recreational activities were encouraged at the College to enrich the physical and spiritual training of the pupils. In 1931, the College also started to publish a periodical, The Review of the Terra Santa College, which had to cease publication in 1942 due to the shortage of paper during the war. In 1941, due to the international political situation, the name was changed from the Italian “Terra Santa” to the Latin “Terra Sancta”.

In early 1947, the complex of the Terra Sancta College was included in the British Security Zone B with the consequence of preventing the free access by teachers and pupils and forcing activities to come to an end. On the expiry of the British Mandate, on 15th May 1948, the Haganah, the Israeli military organization, took possession of the building and on 15th November 1948 the Hebrew University of Jerusalem received it on lease from the Custody of the Holy Land. The College was used an academic and administrative centre of the University whilst the Custody continued to serve the Chapel and to maintain its presence.

Negotiations between the Hebrew University and the Custody of the Holy Land led to the signature of an agreement in 1998 and to the Custody recovering the whole of the complex for its activities. Work carried out in recent years has renovated part of the complex.

Since 2004, the Terra Sancta College has once again had a stable Franciscan Fraternity; it is the seat of the Cultural Centre of the Custody of the Holy Land; it accommodates students from the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum – the Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology and volunteers who work with the Custody in various fields: pastoral, cultural and social. It is a branch of the Latin Parish of Jerusalem.

The community of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception works with the Franciscan Fraternity.