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30 November, 2011

Murals of University Chapel Shine in a New Light

For the past two months, English iconographer Ian Knowles has been refurbishing the murals located on the right side of the chapel, enhancing the colors and contours.

MuralsBethlehem, Palestine - As of Friday the 25th November 2011, the murals of the chapel have been restored to their former glory. Since the 10 October the iconographer and artist Ian Knowles has been working hard to restore the chapel’s murals.

The significance of the statue of the Divine Child, the centerpiece of the chapel which was built in 1907, is high for the Brothers, who are inspired by the teachings of Jesus the teacher and Jean Baptist De La Salle, whose principles of offering education to the poor are central of the Lasallian beliefs. The theme of the mural that was restored — as well as the remaining murals which cover the walls of the Chapel, originally painted in  1957 —show martyr-children who have died for their faith in God.

Knowles restored the left side of the Chapel, where several male children are depicted. He traced the contours and restored the color of the halos, painted in gold. He stressed that his work was only to ‘repair’ the paintings, not paint over them. The result is beautiful. See below for a before and after photo:


Knowles was born in 1962 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. He studied theology at Oxford University and at Heythrop College, London and describes himself as a practicing Catholic. Finally, he studied iconography under Br. Egon Sendler, SJ and Aidan Hart. Since 2007 he works as an independent iconographer. More on his life and his work can be found here.

He says about working at Bethlehem University: "Working in the University was great fun, not least as a chance to catch up with old friends, made when I taught a semester of English in 2008. The staff and students were so welcoming and appreciative of the work, and being constantly in the chapel made me aware of how well it is used by many students — Christian and Muslim — coming for moments of peace, quiet and even prayer. I hope very much to continue the relationship with this impressive institution in the years ahead, not least through the Diploma in Iconography from the Bethlehem School Icon Which I hope will begin in August 2012."

The University wishes to thank Ian Knowles for his great work in the Chapel and is looking forward to his return!


Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine