This country may be a little red dot, but it has left its mark in one of the four chapels at the new Basilica of St Mary Magdalene in Magdala, the Holy Land.
Thirty benefactors and a few members of the Singapore Order of Malta were present at the dedication and blessing of the first Singapore chapel in the Holy Land on Dec 20.
This was part of the Magdala Project, which was encouraged by Pope John Paul II in 2004, soon after the second intifada and Christians needed encouragement to come back to the Holy Land and stop the growing numbers of emigration.
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI blessed the cornerstone, and it is now hoped that Pope Francis will consecrate the whole basilica during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Support first came from Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia in 2007, and on its completion, Archbishop William Goh gave a congratulatory message, where he also prayed that “pilgrims who come to seek the Lord, in the solace of this chapel find Him in prayer and quiet contemplation of His ministry in Galilee”.
The Singapore team had chosen the theme of Jesus walking on water, while the three other chapels are dedicated to Jesus calling the fishermen, casting out demons from Mary Magdalene, and raising Jairus’ dead daughter. Each chapel can hold about 60 people.
A total amount of US$355,006 (S$410,610) was put together by local donors to build the Singapore chapel initially, but El Salvador also helped with an additional contribution of US$85,000.
The private Mass was the first to be held in the basilica, which was built over the market of the first century port dating to before the birth of Christ. The celebrant was Fr John Solana, Pontifical Charge of Notre Dame of Jerusalem and initiator of the Magdala Centre, and concelebrated by Fr Eamon Kelly.
During the Mass, the Singapore flag was placed on the altar and the national anthem sung.
In a bid to bring more pilgrims to the Holy Land, there are other works currently ongoing including the construction of the Pilgrims Hotel, a restaurant, a media centre and an archaeological centre.
By Dr Gabriel Oon