Building the New Church
At the time of Fr. Antonio Buzo
Fr Antonio Buzo was mostly interested in doing goodness and finding out work opportunities for the unemployed, in addition to that he was interested in finding an adoration place.
Depending of the Godly care he decieded to build the new church. In the year 1953 Father Antonio had opened a pounding workshop preparing for building the future church who he himself has designed the cadastral map in 1951 with the help of the Architect Paul Kufrer, head of Latroun Convent. Threfore, Fr. Antonio agreed with the monk. Kufrer that building the church should be consisted from Birzeit solid stone both externally and internally, but the Monk died in 1957 just before starting the construction and was replaced by his faithful pupil Monk Polan Schnider, he is also one of Latroun Convent who was specialized in concrete work and he worked also in rehabilitating the Church of Resurrection Church in Jerusalem.
The Monk took on his shoulder putting plans for building the church and supervise the work very accurately. After Fr. Antonio had finished the map he started thinking in financing, since he did not think of relying either on the parish or on the Patriarch, as the Patriarch was busy in establishing schools and convents in the East of Jordan. In the light of the preceeding, Fr. Antonio decided to depend personally on himself for financing the project, then he left Birzeit to his Parish in Italy which is called Fethorio Finito and started with his mother town Oderzo, and there he was relied on its Parish Priest Msgr. Dominico Visantini the owner of distinguished personality, and he addressed his generous citizens and found that they had the ability to support and encouragement, he also requested financial support from the Repatriates Nationals of Birzeit who are living and working in Jordan, the Arab Countries and the Americas who emphasized to him that they will never forget their Parish.
In May 1954 Fr. Antonio announced in front of his parish that he is possessing some money to start the work in the church, so that the Parish members were pleased in this incident. Furthermore, the Priest started the pounding workshop into the northeren side of the old church and he had chosed the site with the help of Monk Kufrer into the North of the Old Church, as there is no other piece of land in this area, so that the land was sloping down deeply from the northern side, then the Priest and the Architect knew well how to get benefit out of this slope and exploited this to build the Hall for the Parish, Kindergarten and classes for the school.
Ruins from the First Centuries
The workers and also Fr. Antonio have got a good surprise when the ground leveling started as they found ruins for an old church about two feet in height. This ruins referred to the to the Byzantine Age, that church who the wanderer Jeera spoke about it during his visit to Birzeit who Priest Jolly had announced about it in the year 1865. Therefore, Jeera wrote that he saw pillars buried in the ground and during prospection it was clearly shown that the ruins that Jeera and Fr. Jolly mentioned about is considered as an old adoration place. There workers also found a big Romanian well and a cemetery looking good in its shape consisting of four bony skeletons and some lanterns. Some of the Monks especially San Etian Monks and Archeologists paid a visit for this site and they investigated it, and they preferred to leave these assets composing of bony skeletons.
After the expiry of the Church's infra structure, the works for building the Church was started. At that time changes in the economical positions have been started, so that works have flourished in East Jordan especially in Amman and Zerka since transportation between the two Banks of river Jordan were easy because of no boundaries.Threfore,the Palestinians found in Jordan a good place for work by which they were passing through to work in Kuwait because of the high salaries.
At the same time the building works began to recover between Jerusalem & Ramallah which was followed by the raise in the individual income and the income of the worker. At that time Fr. Antonio Bozo noticed that the work in Building which is moving slowly who he started it for helping the unemployed persons who have no money to spend on their families has less affect and the motivations of the stone cutters have been vanished.At the same time the expenses have been aroused and the financial resources have been reduced & its level was depreciated. Fr. Antonio started fostering the work especially in building the new church for the parish which in deep need as the renovation of the old church will cost a lot of money because it may collapse at any moment. & it was not valid for having prayers in it. Fr. Antonio expressed all his interests to Patriarch Albero Ghouri, but unfortunately, the Patriarch was busy in building Churches in East Jordan & he put all his efforts and his budget overthere, ince then Fr. Antonio decided to depend of the Godly care is it it the final exit for his issue.
Mgr. Grigorio Aguilar
The Godly Care was represented in Mexican priest called Mgr Grigorio Aguilar, the Arch Bishop of the National Temple of Guadaloupe in Mexico, since this priest came as a Pilgrimant into the Holy Land in the year 1970, and during his presence in Jerusalem he met with Mgr Yacoub Baltriti who was the Patriarch's secretary, and he said to him that he wants to help in the holy land by the name of our lady of Guadeloupe, and he saw MRG Baltriti who was on direct contact on the interests of his brother, the priest of Birzeit parish, so that he was accompanied by Mgr Baltriti to Birzeit and when saw a poster representing our Lady of the Immaculate Conception over the temple of the old church, the Mgr shouted and said that the name: Guadaloupe should be given to the new church in which the work was started as a Mexican style given to the church,and he is bale to give an active help to fulfill this immense project. This is the agreement concluded with the two men.
Meanwhile, after he returned back to Mexico, Mgr Aguilar he called the Mexican National Temple for an Assembly, during the meeting he exposed to them his idea, all the members agreed on building a Guadaloupe Church in Birzeit, Mgr Aguilar spent three years as a head of this temple he sent US 44000 for this project, this amount in addition to another aids shared in pushing up the working wheel and the rising up the walls of the church.
But in the year 1973, when the Mexican temple was directed by a new administration, aids to Birzeit Church was stopped, but Mgr Aguilar was ready to give personal aids and sent the sum of US 10000 just before his death on 01/05/1975.
Ending the work in the New Church
Fr. Antonio Bozo was affected by the death of Mgr Aguilar who supported him in building the new church and he addressed to his friend who was available with the patriarch Alberto Ghouri in the Ecumenical Board and requested him to meditate with Mexico Bishop Mgr Mirinda, he answered him that he has no authority on Guadaloupe Church which at that time faced to shrinks and it was in need for renovations, and it was proposed that its renovation will cost a big amount of money. For this reason the Mexicans stopped their aids fo Birzeit Church, and it became necessary deepening on the Church of Jerusalem, and in Vatican Cardinal Tisna who the patriarchate in Jerusalem was under his patronage, started sending simple aids every year to Birzeit's Church, and also Mgr Merlo who was a friend to Fr. Antonio Bozo, and who was also the Director of patriarchate Shools for a long period, he devoted himself for helping the Church of Birzeit and he allocated all the income of his family in addition to the amounts he personally collected from Italy, and he also contributed with his private Arabic library which is available in the patriarchate seminar. Therefore it is not all the abovementioned amounts, in addition to the amounts in which contributed by the citizens of the Italian city called Oderzo, which the city of Fr. Antonio, which these amount proved to be insufficient for completing the project. The matter became more worse after the war of 1967 when the Whole West Bank including Birzeit became under the Israeli occupation, since it was followed by a big financial inflation in Israel and the occupied territories, so that the Arab Workers started working in Israel having highly wages, as the workshop of Birzeit Church faced a big ladens and it became necessary to end up work as fast as possible. After the death of Patriarch Alberto Ghouri he was replaced by Mgr Yacoub Baltriti who was following continuously the issue of Birzeit's Church & he who reached into a decision in respect of working seriously for ending up the work in the Church. Patriarch Baltriti was interested also in ending up the work in another church in Zababdeh since the inflation was increasing and the issue of ending up the work in Zababdeh's Church is in deep need until its construction has been finished so that it was inaugurated on 28/07/1974, thereafter, all efforts were devoted on building the Church of Birzeit and all efforts and the financial opportunities were allocated for this purpose which finally led to ending up the project which lasted for twenty four years. Therefore the decisive & different effort just came up by the American knights of the Holy Tomb Headed by Mr. John Craig who was followed with the same enthusiasm by Fr. Russell Kendall who sent a big effort in the year 1971 which facilitate & foster building the walls and Arches and finally plastering which was ended in August 1974 & we have to remember the help of Swiss, Italian, Mexican Donors and Birzeit parish itself who its members abundantly donated their money, and it is important to point out to the personal donation of US 44000 forwarded by Aguilar & the amount of US 50000 which was donated by Mgr Ghalermo.
Description of the New Church
As we have previously mentioned that the site of the Church was chosen into the north of the Old Church in the Land of Mission & how the wish of the Godly Accident made it possible for the church to be built over the basement of an ancient Roman Church. The new church was constructed on the shape of Latin Cross since its internal length amounted to 34 meters and it external length amounted to 39 meters, and its internal width amounted to 11.4 meters and the width of the wings amounted to 20 meters, and it height being 11 meters and it has to horizontal Arches which make the view more beautiful. But the temple is considered as a big half circle which surrounds the temple which is composed of a big rock supported by two columns. This temple was forwarded by the family of Yacoub Samandar one of the Birzeiti Christian Families who immigrated to Southern America. The Church has the capacity of receiving 44 praying banks forwarded by the members of the Parish, at the end of the church available is a wide roof designed to accept a number of Prayers, but the confession chairs it were put just under the stair which leads to the roof from both right and left sides. On the walls of the church & with the length of one and halg meter there is a mosaic 7 posters on the shape of half circle ornamenting the stone walls and saves for the audience a meaningful religious photos such as: Gethsemane, Crucifiction & Resurrection in the temple area, and there is other posters such as: The Sacred Heart, Amous Two Disciples, Hail Mary & Saint Anna the Baptist who baptizing the Redeemer. Therefore, there is another poster which was put over the main entrance revealing the sacred family who are passing across the old road which is marching from Jerusalem through birzeit from the North. Nevertheless, these mosaic posters were made by a Vatican's Artist and they gave these posters as an offer to the Church of Birzeit. At the Middle of the Church there is a big poster representing Our Lady (Guadaloupe) which was granted by Mgr Aguilar which was placed in its place on 12/03/1975 at the day Mgr Aguilar celebrated his 80 years birthday. Aguilar offered another three mosaic posters which ornament the temple which is also ornamented by Arian Posters granted by Mr. Ibrahim Saadeh from Birzeit.
Inside the Church
There is a Poster available in the Church granted by Mr. Abdullah Al-Sayeh who was living in Colombia and another Poster granted by Dr. Kidario from Tofari and finally a Poster granted by Antonio Bozo's sister who came to Birzeit and attended the inauguration procedures. The Western Ward of the Church opened into small room in which the Priest & the boy servents change their clothes before the mass starts (we call it in Arabic Sikristiyah) which now was transferred into Cabilla for the holy anction, it was provided with a new furniture and it has a door opened towards the nuns house, & it has also three big windows of colored glass appeared on them a symbolic religious paintings which ornamented the church just before its inauguration on 27/09/1975. About windows: one in each ward and the third in the entrance of the church just above the roof & there are also another three windows at the Temple's area placed by brother Paula who is residing in Latron Convent. Therefore, brother Paula is a pupil and the inherit of Fr. Filibro who have inherited the beautiful humbleness and who have inherited also Fr. Kofrier's architectural engineering, so that the windows were filled of the classical & technical symbols. The external entrance of the Church has three beautiful arches which are derived from the Latroun Convent, and the entrance has a special prestige since it comes after 14 stairs of the digging stones, since then, the church appears just behind the asphalted courtyard, beautiful in its scene which the local stones make it more prosperous, and appears also is the front elevation of the church including the glass window above which the mosaic poster of our lady Guadaloupe is already situated, since the Hail Mary has her glimpse from the top of the elevation newly remembering us with the name of our Lady Guadaloupe's Church. At the top of the Church there highly available is a stone made cross granted by Fr. Suleiman Samandar from Birzeit. Finally, this church which was preached by just for a social aim for helping Christian Families had found a tremendous success, since it is considered as one of the most beautiful Patriarchate Churches, and the proud is firstly refers to Fr. Antonio Bozo the zealous & persevered person & to the respectful beneficiaries & to Birzieti faithful people who worked in this construction and who they are proud enough for implementing this immense achievement.
Inauguration of The New Church
The Inauguration Festival of the Church was a pioneering opportunity for many people to attend especially those who had participated in building the Church as a group including 44 people of the Nights of the Holy Tomb headed by Sir. William Dowell who they were fully enraptured for attending the Inauguration festival, among those there were also a number of the Nights of the Holy Tom who came from Mexico headed by Sir Bruncho Shoufaiz who brought his family with him, since the attraction was focused on the presence of the Mexican delegation due to the good ties between the Church of Birzeit & the Church of Guadaloupe in Mexico, as Patriarch Baltriti was careful on introducing the parish of birzeit to the Parish of Mexico, that parish who issued a bulletin composed of 20 pages which was translated by Priest of Jifna Fr. Alfred Atiyyeh & printed at the Patriarchate's Prints and were comprehensively distributed through the festival. Meanwhile, Fr. Piltran adopted the costs of printing the bulletin which was distributed in five languages since the first page of it composes of a picture and the history of Guadaloupe's Church and the last page consists of an essay about Birzeit and its Church. Therefore, the Patriarch and the Priests gave their appreciation for Fr. Piltran and his abundantly contribution, then the Mexican Pilgrims brought the flag of their country & a big Poster for Guadeloupe since their entrance into the church was carrying both pleasure and sentiment, and at the same time the presence of an Italian Pilgrims among them were 44 people from Oderzo, the city of Fr. Antonio Bozo who were alos headed by Mgr Artico who was a friend for Fr. Antonio at the Seminar & who also followed up Mgr Artico the parish Priest of Oderzo after his death in 1963 and he inherited all feelings of closing up with the Holy Land, and he was gathered by a number of friends and priests who shared effectively in the project of school and the church of Birzeit, among them were the sister of Fr. Antonio Bozo and his niece. But both the Swiss & American Knights of the Holy Tomb could not attend this festival.
The Inauguration & blessing of the Church was on Saturday 27/09/1976 despite that things were not completely arranged, since then Fr. Antonio was obliged to construct an urgent courtyard. Therefore, the fourteen stairs of the church were duly prepared at the same week as work was going on in removing the last stones which resulted from the old church. Fr. Antonio worked hard and people collaborated in his efforts, Fr. Antonio performed committees and gave a mission for each committee. One of those who did big efforts was Fr. Ibrahim Hijazeen, Fr. Alfred Atiyeh who was supervising on preparing the religious prayers with the help of the Rosary Nuns, and he was called the Patriarchate Musician. About the Nuns who were serving in Birzeit at that time and supervised on the festivals such as: Mary Anj from Ailaboun, Jackleen from Madaba, Dhalia from Al-Huson, also the nuns Jifna, Aboud & Taybeh had offered. The date of the festival was fixed at 9:00 am on Saturday 27/09/1976 under the Patronage of Mayor of Birzeit Mr. Ziadeh Yacoub Ziadeh & the Members of Birzeit Council & an elite prestigious persons of the city of Birzeit just before the beginning of the festival. All the people went to Al-Taybeh's Road next Al- Balou just for receiving the Patriarch & they accompanied him till the entrance of city of Birzeit waiting for them were great numbers of the inhabitants, persons of the Parish & the foreign Pilgrims who they came from Jerusalem. Therefore, the Patriarch was escorted by two Priests from Birzeit named: The head of the Patriarchate's Schools Fr. Suleiman Samandar and Priest of Zababdeh Fr. Manauel Mussallam, the convoy was preceded by the Silesian Copper Music Band since the convoy penetrated the city of Birzeit until it reached into the outskirts of the Church.
The Patriarch started the inauguration festival of the new church in Birzeit with the blessing of the external Southern elevation of he church, then all the people came into the church attracted with its architectural beauty, then the prayerful a nuns headed by Fr. Alfred Attiyeh (Priest of Jifna's parish) who was accompanied by the Seminar's Recital headed by Fr. Mirand. The Elite prestigious persons were sitting in the front seats & among them was Rev. Qwinn, the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem along with his escorts & Sir. William Dowell the head of the Nights of the Holy Tomb in the United States of America & Sir. Barusso Shaviz the Head of the Nights of the holy Tomb in Mexico & a Lady Group of the Holy Tomb were sitting behind them along with four groups of the foreign Pilgrims. Then Mgr Artico & Mgr Mazaroto took their places with the celebrants. Therefore, from the left side the front seats the following persons were sitting: Ambassador of Austria Dr. Yuhanan Misthur, Mr. Laurence Kofman Acting Secretary of the Swiss Embassy, Dr. Hilmot Rock Raigel Acting Secretary of the German Embassy. Meanwhile, a group of Mayors were responded to the invitation of Fr. Antonio Buzo such as: Mayor of Birzeit, Mr. Ziadeh Yacoub Ziadeh & the members of Birzeit Municipality Council, Mr. Karim Khalaf (Mayor of Ramallah), Mr. Ahmad Darwish (Mayor of Al-Bireh), Mr. Farah Al-Araj (Mayor of Beit Jala), Mr. Elias Friej (Mayor of Bethlehem), Mr.Jiris Al- Taweel (Mayor of Biet Sahour), Mr. Anton Zaghloul (Head of Jifna's Village Council), Mr. Butros Ibrahim (Mukhtar of Aboud), Mr. Butros Massis (Head of Taybeh Village Coulcil). Then the Patriarch started splashing the sacred water into the internal walls of the church & the religious songs started, and Mr. Augustine Lama the Organist of the Church of the Holy Tomb who was pungent in playing on the Organ, just before the Patriarch starts splashing the temple, he started his speech in Arabic language by cheering the faithful people thanking all either those presented or absented who shared and abundantly contributed for achieving this immense project which was achieved by Fr. Antonio Buzo efforts, care, and following up, and he also mentioned how that the church was the preferable place to meet with God and the faithful people under the shadow of the holy action and the Godly Liturgy. After that, The patriarch blessed the temple and the entrance of the Church as splashing the sacred water lasted for a long period of time despite the style of prayers was shorted & finished up with the Holy Mass, since then the Church was called our lady Guadalupe. The songs were done in Latin, the readings in Arabic, Italian and Spanish Languages, the sacred Gospel forwarded by Mgr Maho in English Language, and a large number both of the faithful people and the foreign audience were participating in receiving the holy unction. Therefore this fantastic Liturgical festival ended, after that a reception party have been arranged at the Parish's Hall just beneath the Church for two hours which was headed by Fr. Antonio Buzo showing his deep grateful for all beneficiaries, and his speech was told in Arabic, Italian, Spanish and French Languages and the Silesian Copper Musical Band Organizing the beautiful tunes from time to time.
After festivals, receptions, speeches, music& dance have been done the Audience found enough time on the afternoon of that day for participating in the feasts forwarded which have been contributed by the members of eh Parish in addition to the members of the Orthodox Church and the Moslem person of Birziet. All foods were prepared by the Rosary Nuns, Nuns form Abu Dees, Nuns of Saint Dorothia, since the presence of the nuns was important as Fr. Anton had invited more than 600 people for these feasts. At 4:00 pm the Elite persons have left the City of Birzeit, while four Buses carrying the foreign pilgrims moved forward into Jerusalem and Al-Tour's Mount. Furthermore, in consequent to these festivals a fraternity lovely & heartily relations full of happiness have been created between the audience either those invited persons or the inhabitants of the City of Birzeit, since we had seen the people gathering with each other at the courtyard of the new church, virgin Mary mosaic photo which was forwarded by Mgr Aguilar was obviously seen at the top elevation of the Church on the occasion of the Inauguration of the Church as if our Lady Guadaloupe was gathering around her many worldwide persons in respect of this inauguration's occasion. as a part of the Old Church is still existing and most of its drawings have been obviously seen since the difference was clearly appeared between this old small church which was establish just before (100) years exactly in the year 1865, and the immense of the new church which all of it was built both externally and internally from the beautiful stone, but the supports of the bells room which we have seen on the right side of the new church and the jumpers of the constructing materials on the left side were remembering all people that that work is still existing yet. This miracle which have been achieved by our lady of Guadaloupe in the City of Birzeit and the successful of the inauguration festival with the attendance of many beneficiary friends was an assured guarantee of the possibility on completing this fabulous project.
The Bells Room: Mr. Hermann Michael a big beneficent of Switzerland who was a big officer of the Nights of the Holy Tomb who visited Birzeit on 31/12/1975, took on his shoulders to finish up building the bells room to make sure the contribution of the Swiss Knights of the Holy Tomb in completing this project.