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St. Porphyrius Church

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Al Zaytoun Quarter, Old City, Gaza

St. Porphyrius Church is located in Al Zaytoun Quarter of Gaza City, and currently serves the small Greek Orthodox population of Gaza. The Church dates back to the 5th century, when it was built at the order of Bishop Porphyrius, who served as the Bishop of Maioumas (the port of Gaza) and later as Bishop of Gaza itself. St. Porphyrius was a supporter of the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius, who forbade pagan worship. St. Porphyrius was a strong supporter of this edict and brought an end to Graeco-Roman pagan worship in Gaza by closing all of its temples. After his death, St. Porphyrius was placed in a tomb located in the Northeastern corner of the Church.

The foundations of the Church date back to its construction, but the site has undergone renovations throughout its history. Aspects of the Church, including the western entrance and its cross-vaults and buttresses were constructed during the Crusader period. The Church has also been renovated more recently, during the 19th century. There are inscriptions written in Greek and Arabic that place the date at March 1856. In 1923, the merchant George Bik arrived in Gaza and renewed the Church, restoring its trappings and adornments.

The Church of St. Porphyrius currently sits on an area of 216 square meters and has a rectangular design with a half-domed structure at its end. There are three entrances to the Church. In front of the Western entrance is a canopy mounted on three marble columns which carries the basement ceiling forming a crossing cellar. The Church is characterized by its enormous walls supported by marble and granite columns. These columns are placed in a horizontal position to support the walls. The original layout of the church is similar to other Basilicas and Byzantine churches in Palestine.

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