What We Know about St. Porphyrius Church that Israel Bombed in Gaza – PHOTOS

The Christmas celebrations at the St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in January 2023. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, Palestine Chronicle, file)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

UPDATE: The spokesman for the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, announced – in a press conference – that 16 Palestinian Christians were killed and dozens wounded. as a result of what he described as direct Israeli targeting of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Strip on Thursday night.

On Thursday night, October 19, St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza was bombed while providing shelter for an estimated 500 Palestinians who were seeking shelter from the Israeli bombings. Most were Christians.

Believed to be the third oldest church in the world, the St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church in Gaza was originally founded in 425 CE.

St. Porphyrius was named after 5th-century Bishop Porphyrius, who shepherded the Christian community in Gaza 1,500 years ago. His tomb rests in the northeastern corner of the church.

St. Porphyrius is the only Greek Orthodox church in Gaza. There are three churches in Gaza, the Gaza Baptist Church, the Holy Family Catholic Church, and St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church.

Speaking with Al-Monitor in 2013 Bishop Alexios, said,

“This ancient church reflects the history of Gaza, which experienced periods of paganism, Christianity and Islam. (The Church) is a proof that Christianity continues to exist in the city.”

Gaza’s Christian community consists of 1,000 – 1,500 members.

The church has historically been a refuge for Gazans in times of ever-frequent Israeli bombardment. In 2014 during an Israeli attack, 70 Palestinians sought refuge for days in the ancient church.

The structure that has been a Christian landmark for nearly one-and-a-half millennia, was attacked by Israeli rockets on Thursday, October 18, 2023.

Gaza’s Christian Community Reels as Israel Attacks Ancient Church – VIDEOS

At the time of its attack, The Holy Orthodox Order reported that there were 500 Palestinians seeking refuge inside.

A press release published by the Order of St. George stated,

“The bombs hit the two church halls where the refugees, including children and babies, were sleeping. Presently, survivors are searching the rubble for other casualties. Our source at the scene says that they estimate that 150-200 people are dead, and that number is expected to rise as more people are found in the wreckage.”

If these estimates – which did not receive official confirmation – are correct, it could then be possible that this attack has taken the lives of a significant percentage of the Christian community in the Gaza Strip.

IN PHOTOS: Palestine’s Eastern Christians Celebrate Christmas

The Israeli airstrikes were condemned by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, who stated:

“The Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem expresses its strongest condemnation of the Israeli airstrike that have struck its church compound in the city of Gaza.

“The Patriarchate emphasizes that targeting churches and their institutions, along with the shelters they provide to protect innocent citizens, especially children and women who have lost their homes due to Israeli airstrikes on residential areas over the past thirteen days, constitutes a war crime that cannot be ignored.”

The Palestine Chronicle was privileged to have attended the Eastern Christmas celebrations at the St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox church last January.

(The Palestine Chronicle) 

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