Religion: Battered Shrines

On Jerusalem's Mount Zion, just outside the Old City, stands the towering white stone Church of the Dormition of Mary. Traditionally the place where the Blessed Virgin died, the site has long been one of the holy places of Christendom. In the Arab-Israeli fighting it has also been a prime military objective, last occupied by Israeli troops as a strategic outlook post.

Last month the troops were pulled out and the shrine ordered returned to the Benedictine order, which owns it. Inspection by Roman Catholic and Israeli officials revealed severe damage: tapestries had been destroyed, the altar smashed, gaping holes torn in...

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