Honoring a Champion of Heritage in Jerusalem
In March 2017, WMF trustee Mica Ertegun was decorated as Great Cross-Bearer of the Order of Orthodox Cross-Bearers of the Holy Sepulchre by His Beatitude Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem. In this blog post, WMF President Emerita Bonnie Burnham talks about this honor and the long-standing relationship of Mrs. Ertegun with WMF.
At a ceremony that took place on March 19, 2017, in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theophilos III decorated WMF trustee Mica Ertegun as Great Cross-Bearer of the Order of Orthodox Cross-Bearers of the Holy Sepulchre. This esteemed decoration was presented to honor her lead gift of $1.4 million to support the restoration of the Edicule, the structure that encloses the site identified by tradition as the tomb of Christ, inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem.
“You have made the impossible possible,” His Beatitude said to Mrs. Ertegun during the ceremony. Her gift, through World Monuments Fund, brought together the Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Franciscan communities, who unveiled the restoration of the Edicule on March 22, 2017. Joshua David, President and CEO of World Monuments Fund, stated: “It is thanks to the great generosity and inspirational vision of WMF trustee Mica Ertegun, and her catalytic leadership gift, that this extraordinary project has been realized.” Mrs. Ertegun’s vision and passion for this endeavor inspired another WMF trustee, Jack Shear, to make his own donation to the project. Mrs. Ertegun, who is known internationally as an interior designer and tastemaker, has been a WMF trustee for over two decades, and she has led heritage preservation efforts in her homeland of Romania and throughout Eastern Europe.
I had the pleasure to work side by side with Mrs. Ertegun for many years. She is the tireless champion of the work of sculptor Constantin Brâncuși, whose Endless Column ensemble in Târgu Jiu, Romania, was restored with support from World Monuments Fund. In recognition of her leadership in preservation and philanthropy, in 2014 she was awarded WMF’s Hadrian Award, along with artist Ellsworth Kelly. She is also a celebrated philanthropist in many other fields, and a few years ago she established the prestigious Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities at Oxford University.
Mrs. Ertegun’s gift to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a call for mutual understanding between different creeds and religions. In a time when extremism is arising, the leadership of Mrs. Ertegun should illuminate others, illustrating the benefits of cooperation and collaboration between different peoples.