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Cures cast in Wax, St. Gerasimus Monastery or Deir Hogla near Jericho

Contributed by Leyla Zuaiter on 26.02.2006:

The church on the second floor at the St. Gerasimus convent holds some unusual sights, as recorded in my journal entry for March 22, 2005. “Now we climbed the staircase in the courtyard to a church above the chapel. It too was richly ornamented and full of paintings. Harry Potter has nothing on St. Gerasimus Church. I now learned that the talking portraits in the series are not as original as they seem. Lisa stood in front of a picture of Mary. Just as there were “blinking saints,” saints who seem to blink from their portraits, so there were “talking saints,” such as this talking Mary, whose mouth seems to open and close as if they are talking if you stand in just the right spot. Obviously I wasn’t standing in just the right spot, but also the church was quite dark, which meant that I couldn’t make out the bones of the monks slaughtered by the Persians. Lisa called our attention to the Ikonostasis, a facade running the length of the front of the church behind which only the priest was allowed to pass, via the opening in the center. Richly ornamented, the screen was divided horizontally into three unequal parts: arched openings near the ceiling; tall rectangular full length portraits of the saints in the middle, and squarish paintings of Old Testament scenes beneath them. Just to the left of the opening was a portrait of St. Gerasimus, in front of which a kind of rail had been affixed. This rail pressed hundreds of photos of all sizes of people of all ages to the painting. Below, in front of the painting of Cain struggling with Abel, was another rail from which more wax dolls, skulls, and a couple of unidentifiable objects were suspended. On the ledge below, more wax dolls and body parts were heaped together. In an adjoining niche, was a disembodied arm. Eerie.” The wax dolls and figures represented people or parts of the body for which miraculous cures had been sought. Original Content Creator: Leyla Zuaiter

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