In 1492, the Catholic King of Spain Ferdinand decreed that non-Christians in his domain, which included Sicily, would have to convert by 1493 or leave the Kingdom. At the time, 7 percent of Sicily’s population was Jewish, according to scholar and author Jacqueline Alio. Many Jews left the island and others converted to Christianity, a painful and difficult choice. The once thriving Jewish communities were forced to destroy traces of their faith and culture, as evidenced by recent research which revealed that this church, today known as Chiesa di San Giovannello, was once Meschita Judeorum, a synagogue. Over the centuries it has suffered much damage from earthquakes, vandalism, and non-religious activities. Today the cultural association Siracusa III Millennio is caring for this building, along with the Jewish baths (more on that tomorrow), as a monument to the city’s ancient Jewish population. (Source: Diary of A Discovery by Amalia Daniele di Bagni)
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I had to look up Meschita Judeorum and meschita comes out “mosque” in Italian. It’s interesting that in the 15th century it was called a mosque for Jews. It’s so weird that religions have had so many abuses amongst themselves over centuries. Now that it’s happening again, I can only imagine the turmoil and chaos and “tearing of hair” it caused back then. I’m happy it’s being returned to its original state. We need more sanity worldwide. <3
That’s interesting! I didn’t look us Meschita… Thank you for that! This history is really fascinating me.
Sicily is a very special place, offering so much life, humanity, beauty and peace.