History of Saint Peter of Sion – Ratisbonne Monastery 1874

Religious of Notre-Dame de Sion – Jerusalem

Religious of Our Lady of Sion – Father and Brothers Ratisbonne Monastery Community Jerusalem

Its foundation dates back to the 19th century. Built on a hill facing the old city of Jerusalem, this house, isolated at the time, is today in the heart of Jerusalem.

Its founder, Father Marie-Alphonse Ratisbonne, pushed by the strong demand which filled his school in the Old City, the “Ecce Home”, and by the impossibility of welcoming more students due to lack of space, sought a suitable place to build a large school. This is how in 1874, after purchasing land from an Orthodox Christian, he began the construction of Ratisbonne, which he carried out well. Father Marie-Alphonse asked an architect from Paris for the plans of the future establishment which he wants to be large and beautiful: large because he thinks of the many children awaiting admission; “beautiful because,” he told his architect, “the ugly costs as much as the beautiful: the St. Pierre school being destined to become a nursery for workers and artists, it is appropriate to put a building before their eyes which serves them as a perpetual specimen of good taste”.

Led by the Religious of Notre-Dame de Sion, Ratisbonne began as a primary school for boys; this school also offered language teaching: French, English, Arabic and Hebrew; to this was added vocational education covering up to 18 professions. The house was intended to serve the local population; the spirit that animated it was the welcoming of all: Jews, Arab Christians and Muslims, and all these children were able to study in Ratisbonne until 1948.

Following the creation of the State of Israel, the Ratisbonne house gradually became a study centre for Christians interested in Jewish studies. In 1970, following the teachings of the Catholic Church on the importance of Jewish studies for Christians, Ratisbonne opened itself more specifically to teaching which took on international and ecumenical dimensions.

In 1984, to ensure the permanence and development, in Ratisbonne, of the Christian Centre for Jewish Studies, the Congregation of the Religious of Notre-Dame de Sion, donated its property of Ratisbonne to the Holy See under conditions specified in a contract in due form that He undertakes to make it live and prosper. The Catholic Institute of Paris was charged with academic responsibility for the Institute. The Religious of Sion have always remained involved in the operation of the Centre, but without taking direct responsibility for it.

In 1998 the Study Centre became an Institute of Pontifical Law, but three years later, in 2001, the Congregation for Catholic Education decreed, unilaterally, the closure of the Pontifical Centre for Jewish Studies in Ratisbonne, without respecting the agreements made between the two parties. However, according to the agreement made with the Holy See, in 1984, the Religious of Sion reserved part of the Ratisbonne building to live there themselves and maintain a community activity.

This is how in its premises, in Saint-Pierre de Sion – Ratisbonne, the Congregation of the Religious of Notre-Dame de Sion has transferred and reorganized its library, specialized for Jewish studies, integrating a space intended for teaching in continuity with activities according with its vocation, in relation to the Jewish people, and with the directives of the Catholic Church, since the Second Vatican Council.

By Br. Elio PASSETO, Nds

NDS Community Ratisbonne Monastery




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