A synagogue, a church, a museum
Previously a Synagogue then a Church and now a Museum: the new Jewish section of the Diocesan Museum (Archdiocese of Trani, Baletta and Bisceglie) has an architectural and religious history that goes from medieval times the eighteenth century.
Trani is honored to have as patron S. Nicola Pellegrino, a young ascetic originally from Greece; he passed away in Trani in 1094. He costantly invoked Kyrie eleison, “O Lord, have marcy!”. It is told that whilst participating in a religious procession in Otranto S. Nicola Pellegrino saw an elderly Jew. He approached him and addressed him with affectionate appraisal, thus causing spite and suspicion amongst the viewers.
This episode of exceptional humanity and theological meaning is narrated in the Acta Sanctorum: “During a penitetial procession in Otranto, the saint was participating whilst singing with the others Kyrie eleison. Has he encountered an elderly Jew he bowed before him and uttered «Hail, my brother and Sir. You and I are moulded out of the same clay by the one and only Creator»”.
Then he embraced him. The Christians who were witnesses cried: “Look, he honours and salutes the Jews!”.
The message of the young ascetic enlichtens and brings meaning to the project that we intended to accomplish in this building, in which, in various times and with various accents and languages, man of faith meant to praise the only Father of all.
Photo: Interior of a medieval synagogue.
Miniature from the manuscript ‘ Haggadah of Pesach’, Sarajevo (National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo).