Vatican Museums, Vatican City. The unprecedented joint exhibition, “Menorah: Worship, History and Legend”, was officially inaugurated by the Vatican Museum Director, the Holy See, the State of Israel, the Jewish community of Rome and the Hebrew Museum Director of Rome. Over 130 items are on display as part of the exhibition with the highlight being the original Magdala Stone, featuring the oldest menorah carving ever found in Israel and being displayed publicly for the first time. Highlighting the Magdala Stone, this stone is the most important item of the exhibition for its historical meaning. The stone features a carved seven-branched menorah, the first of its kind found thus far. The stone was discovered in the middle of a unique synagogue and alongside many other archaeological finds in Magdala. All findings date these to the Second Temple Period and Jesus´ time. The original stone is the center piece of the exhibition at Nel Braccio Di Carlo Magno Museum in St. Peter´s Square.
The menorah exhibition has an important link to the city of Rome as the Menorah became the primary Jewish symbol after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in the year 70 CE. From that date onward, the menorah has been carved on Titus’s arch in Rome remarking the event in history. Additionally, the menorah was the main symbol of the Jewish State foundation in 1948. The temporary exhibition is divided between the Vatican Museums and Rome’s Hebrew Museum. It is now open to the public and will be featured until August 2017. Visitors will be able to learn more about ancient items throughout history that unite Judaism and Christianity. This wonderful project was partly funded by the California Patrons in support and recognition of the many years of service Father Mark Haydu has dedicated to the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums.