Parish Church of the Parish of Our Lady of the Rosary, Tehran
The church is dedicated to Abraham, the Holy Patriarch of the Old Testament. Such a dedication is unusual but not unknown; he has long been patron of many Eastern Churches. Abraham is the Father in faith of the three great religions of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. It was a choice, which expressed the desire that this might be a place of respect, encounter and dialogue between these traditions.
The icon at the church entrance is a ceramic copy of Rublev's icon depicting the visit of the three angels to Abraham. It is a reminder that here in this House of Abraham we also can enter into the presence of God.
Continuing into St. Abraham's, one leaves the sounds of the busy Jamalzadeh street and enters the quiet of a cloistered garden which brings to mind both the monastic cloister and the Madresseh Elmieh. The buildings around the garden are the home for the Dominican community, rooms for parish activities and the church itself.
Built in 1966, the period of the 2nd Vatican Council the interior of the church reflects the spirit of that age of rediscovery of the richness of the Church's liturgy. The designers also wished to have a structure in harmony with the heritage of sacred buildings in Iran.
The first thing that strikes one is the simplicity of the building. The uncluttered interior with its indirect light brings one into a peaceful and prayerful setting. This calm simplicity is in accord with Dominican tradition and also in harmony with the character of religious buildings in the Iranian cultural tradition.
In the sanctuary area, light from above focuses attention on the altar. The altar itself is a simple slab of stone behind which the priest now faces the people in a manner, which brings to mind both the Communion and the Sacrifice of the Mass. The supporting pillar of the altar is colored blue, the color associated with a holy place in Iran.
The wooden furniture of the area around the altar (the sanctuary) was especially designed and made for this church. The reading desk (Ambo) and the chair of the presiding priest remind us that at the mass, one is nourished not only by Holy Communion from the altar but also at the table of Holy Scriptures and Preaching.
Near the entrance is the baptismal font. It is a basin of blue ceramic mosaic. The light shines down from an overhead window bringing to mind the light of Christ which we receive at baptism.
On the right hand side within the church, there is a shrine of the Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir, a quiet corner for personal prayer.
St Abraham's is the church of the parish of "Our Lady of the Rosary." This parish community can be said to be truly catholic, as it is made up of people from many nations; Filipino, Indian, Lebanese, Russian, and the European countries.
English is generally the language which we share in common, while always adapting to the culture and environment in which our families live here in Iran. We rightly treasure our own particular cultural and ethnic backgrounds but as a Christian community do not to limit ourselves to any particular group in the church. Creation of community in such circumstances will always be a challenge but it is also a wonderful expression of God's Kingdom.
Though of different backgrounds with the Lord's help we can accept, support and encourage each other and strive to be united in heart and mind in the following of Jesus.