On April 1998, on the first anniversary of the unveiling of the Memorial Mural to the Victims of the Holocaust inside the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio paid tribute to the millions of people murdered by the Nazis. It was inaugurated by Cardinal Antonio Quarracino on 14 April 1997, following an idea of Baruch Tenembaum, founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
In a letter addressed to Tenembaum, dated 26 December 1997, only two months before his passing, Cardinal Quarracino wrote the following:
“It will soon be the first anniversary of the unveiling of this worthy monument within the Cathedral, before which I have invited all Jews to cover their heads if they wish to do so. The permanent site of emplacement of this Mural is to be close to the final resting place which I am hoping for inside the Cathedral, so that I may continue preaching for brotherhood as I have done all my life.”
“I have no doubt that once the time comes to succeed me, Archbishop Monsignor Jorge Bergoglio will continue the same road of reconciliation and fraternity with our elder brothers.”
The Mural, an impressive work of fine silversmith, is an unprecedented artistic monument in the history of the Jewish-Christian relations. Its dimensions are 1,80 mts. long by 1,20 mts. wide. It is composed of two glass panels between which are placed sheets of books of prayers rescued from the ruins of the Treblinka and Auschwitz concentration camps as well as the Warsaw ghetto. The work also pays tribute to those killed in the attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires (1992) and the AMIA Jewish Community Center building (1994). The Mural was unveiled by Nobel Peace Prize, Lech Walesa.
The visitor will probably be amazed when appreciating the Hebrew alphabet letters in Argentina’s main Catholic temple. Among the texts, those which illustrate a Hagadah of Pesach (ritual prayer book of the Jewish Easter), rescued from a concentration camp in the Toulouse area (France) in 1942, donated by Mrs. Myriam Kesler, daughter of one of the victims, can be appreciated. Those are the same characters which illustrate the only stamp with Hebrew letters ever issued in Argentina, launched in 1998 by the Correo Argentino postal service.
The tree of life, a Menorah (candelabrum), the Tables of the Law and the Star of David can be seen engraved in the four corners of the silver-wrought frame.
Following his wish, after the passing of Cardinal Quarracino the Mural was moved to the Virgen de Luján Chapel, where Quarracino is buried.
In 2004 a replica was inaugurated at the Vaterunser Kirche, Berlin.