Monday, July 12, 2010
Postcard from Syria
Damascus: Hanania church carved in the rock.
The ancient house of Saint Ananias, in the old Christian quarter of Damascus, Syria. It is believed to be the house where Ananias baptized Saul (who became Paul the Apostle).
It is located near Bab Sharqi (Eastern Gate), at the very end of the Street Called Straight. Five meters below ground level, the church is supposedly the cellar of the House of Ananias, but more likely it is built at the level of the Roman street.
The church, which has been restored many times, is the only early Christian house of worship from the first century to survive in the city. A simple structure consisting of two small rooms with bare stone walls, it houses only an altar, some icons and a few pews. The icons tell the story of the conversion of Paul. It represents the simplicity of the initial Christians and is one of the earliest churches still standing where services continue to be held to this day.