Originally published 04/08/2013
The Turkish Islamic government of Premier Recel Tayyp Erdogan will kick start the restoration of the St. Peter's Cave in Antakya, the world's oldest church carved into a mountainside. According to Christian tradition, the first of the apostles celebrated the first mass here 2,000 years ago and about a millennium ago the Crusaders turned it into a chapel.The renovation has started, according to Turkish press reports, under the direction of the Museum of Antakya which has jurisdiction over the cave church of St. Peter, who was the first bishop of Antioch after leaving Jerusalem and before travelling to Rome. The church is carved into Mount Silpius which dominates ancient Antioch on the Orontes, once the 'queen of the East' and one of the three capitals of the Mediterranean with Rome and Constantinople. Today it lies on the outskirts of the Turkish town of Antakya, close to the border with Syria and its bloody civil war. According to the Turkish opposition, Jihadist militia transit through this area to cross the border into Syria. The cave is 13-metres deep and seven-meters high and was at risk of collapse. The mountain around it is crumbling in a number of areas....
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