Rest house and pest house

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I spent my day off nosing around the port of old Jaffa (Yafo), Israel. I stumbled across the Armenian Convent of Saint Nicholas. This was not surprising. St Nick is often considered a patron saint of sailors; it is appropriate to find him in a port. The structure served as a place of worship, and, at one time, a rest house for Armenian pilgrims arriving in the Heartland by ship.

What was a surprise is learning about how the convent served as a hospital for the pestilent-struck soldiers of Napoléon's Armée d'Orient (1798-1801). In fact, the courtyard of this structure was famously depicted by Antoine-Jean Gros in his 1804 painting Bonaparte visitant les pestiférés de Jaffa or "Bonaparte Visits the Plague Stricken in Jaffa." See more on this famous work of art in the Louvre here. Don't miss the bit about how Gros portrayed Napoléon as a type of Christ, touching the wounds of the sick!

The irony here is that Napoléon was also accused of poisoning those who were unable to join the retreat. Look here. 

See our post on the church of St Peter above the port here or check out our Christmas visit with Saint Nicholas in Palestine here


Dr. Mark Ziese, Dean of the School of Bible and Theology at Johnson University, manages the website Bible Land Explorer and teaches regularly in the Biblical heartland. You are invited to join Mark and Vicki for a Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Celebrity Reflection in October, 2018. See the link here for details.