At the critical junction of Paris Square, which conjoins the bustling city center of Jerusalem with the elegant tranquility of the Rechavia neighborhood, visitors may notice the ornate building situated just across the street from the Paris Square fountain. This building is Terra Sancta College, and carries within it a long and complex history that is nearly a century old. Today the building functions as a Christian college in collaboration with a Franciscan fraternity and Franciscan sisters. But as one of the monuments to the city's past, the history of the college is varied and complicated. Terra Sancta College was built in 1926 by the Società di San Paolo of Milan, and was called the "Opera Cardinal Ferrari." The designer of the building was the Italian architect Antonio Berluzzi, who designed many buildings in Jerusalem during this period. The four-floor building was constructed according to an artistically asymmetrical design.
For two years the "Opera Cardinal Ferrari" functioned as a school, but after two years was forced to close due to lack of funds. It later reopened again as a school, and even before the state of Israel was established, the building functioned as an educational facility for Christians, Arabs and Jews. While various complications arose during the British Mandate-at one point the building was taken over by the Haganah armed forces-the building remained an educational facility for most of its existence. Today, the original intent of the building has been restored, as once again it is under the supervision of the Franciscan fraternity, and is the seat of the Cultural Centre of the Holy Land Custody.
It also serves as a house for students of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum (the Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology) as well as for volunteers who cooperate with the Custody in several areas, pastoral, cultural and social. The college is also an annex of the Latin Parish of Jerusalem.
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