Praying in the Great Omari Mosque elicits humanistic emotions before evoking religious feelings, especially if one knows that, thousands of years ago, people prayed in this place of worship when it was a pagan temple for Marna, the greatest of the city’s seven gods. During that era, Gazans worshiped idols and the sun.
According to Saleem Mobayed’s book "Islamic Archaeological Buildings in the Gaza Strip," when Christianity emerged at the beginning of the 5th century, the majority of the city’s inhabitants embraced Christianity and demolished the pagan temple. They built a church on the same site to practice their faith, under the supervision of the then Gaza bishop St. Prophyrus and with the support of Queen Eudoxia and her husband King Arcadius. The latter ordered 42 Greek marble columns to be shipped to Gaza to construct the church, which was named in honor of the saint.
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