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A monolith for the year 2000 on Mount Nebo
God is love. An appeal of heaven and a message of the Prophets.
A monolith for the year 2000 on Mount Nebo.
the monolith on nebo the monolith on nebo
the monolith on nebo

the monolith on nebo

the monolith on nebo

the monolith on nebo

An adventure commenced by chance and concluded in the span of a few months thanks to the enthusiastic collaboration by the old and new Friends of Mount Nebo.

On the morning of July 3rd 1998 we had taken part in Amman at the meeting of the Royal Commission set up by the late King Hussein to open the sanctuaries of the baptism on the eastern banks of river Jordan for Christmas 2000. The plans for this project were shortly prepared by architect Vito Sonzogni from Bergamo in consultation with the Franciscan archaeologists of Mount Nebo. These plans, which were approved, envisaged the use of huge monoliths in some areas of the project. For this reason we visited the stone quarries of Hallabat in the eastern plateau. For years these quarries, using italian technology, have been extracting huge white limestone blocks of about 10 metres long.

Visiting the quarry I was struck by a block of more than five metres height which lied on the floor. I associated it with Mount Nebo, and without knowing what we would do with it, I ordered it to be taken to the Sanctuary of Moses and to place it at the crossroads which lead to the basilica. A feat accomplished by Garbo, who full of enthusiasm in front of such a challenge, was helped by our friends who for years have been participating with their cranes in crucial moments of the archaeological excavation campaigns carried out by our institute.

This is how the Jubilee 2000 project on Mount Nebo started. A commemorative stone, on a holy mountain rich in dolmen and megalithic monuments which for the past six thousand years articulate the passage of time and which we learned to recognise and classified.

The picture of the white monolith circulated among our friends. The white block of stone was there waiting.

The second important step occurred in Rome during spring, "Michele", Alessandra told me, "Antonello found the just person for the stone of Nebo".

A visit to the sculpture's studio followed. Situated at Isola di Liri, a few metres from the foaming waterfall created by the river at the centre of the village. It was a moment of fascination for us coming from the desert of Jordan!

Vincenzo Bianchi was waiting for us. He is the last in a long chain of contemporary sculptures, as Mastroianni and Andreotti, who in the land of Mario, of Cicero and of the Knight of Arpino, have made history and formed schools! I looked around, listened, hardly able to move among the stacked works of art, caught by the enthusiasm of Vincenzo who already had an idea for the distant white stone block which awaited him on our mountain.

A book... The Book... science, love, faith... the fruit of experience, sacrifices, tensions of so many human beings who inhabited the earth, to accompany us their heirs on the doorstep of the new millennium. A book on the mountain where Moses closed his earthly adventure after indicating to others the Promised Land. The book for the pilgrims of the Peoples of the Book: the Torah of the Jews, the Gospel of the Christians, the Koran of the Moslems. The book which synthesises the message for us pilgrims of the Third Millennium... in search of the Truth of Love which unites and binds in a brotherly bond. Thus was born the Book of Love.

The project was completed during the month of September. Vincenzo, Marco, Nicola, Ahmad, Samir were involved in "removing the superfluous" from the stone so that the matured idea would be brought to light. Books commemorating those who during the past sixty years have given back life to the sanctuary of Nebo are engraved at the base of the monolith. From these books sprouts the Tree of Life made up of human beings reaching out to Truth. A branch at the summit projects towards heaven the peace dove which flies towards new horizons inspired by the message of Love of the Prophets of this Holy Land.

Ibrahim, an egyptian stone-mason, engraved the message in greek, latin and arabic. "God is Love", in greek. The text of St. John engraved on the spine becomes the title of the book. "One God, father of all, above all", in latin, taken from St. Paul and written on one of the cover pages, completes the message, which repeated in arabic on the second cover page becomes: "God is love. It is the appeal of Heaven and the message of the Prophets". The arabic text was prepared by Abu Isa, a christian from Madaba and calligraphist of the royal court.

The paved entrance road to the sanctuary will converge at the monolith. This will be the last stretch of the Road of Peace which will join the city of Madaba with its sanctuary on Mount Nebo in front of the Promised Land, a small sign of hope at the dawn of the new millennium.

Michele Piccirillo
Mount Nebo - Jordan

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Created / Updated Friday, July 27, 2001 at 15:42:17 by John Abela ofm
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