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AFP photographic exhibition: everyday life of the Franciscan Friars of Jerusalem

For the first time the Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre is hosting a photographic exhibition on its perimeter railings. ‘Custodians of the Tomb of Christ’ is an exhibition by AFP showing the everyday life of the Franciscan Friars of Jerusalem. It can be viewed from September 10th to December 13th 2020. 

The Franciscan Friars agreed to open their doors for the first time to a photo journalist. Thomas Coex a photographer for AFP in Jerusalem, accompanied them during their times of prayer, social work and leisure. 

The 29 prints in the exhibition invite us to discover previously undisclosed scenes of the daily life of these Catholic friars, faithful guardians of the tomb of Christ for the last 800 years. 


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At the heart of processions in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the refectory of the monastery, during basketball games with the pupils from their schools or in the infirmary where elderly friars are cared for, these images reveal a world where the sacred and the everyday coexist in perfect harmony. 

The exhibition has the full support of Canon. It played a key role in the entire process, from capturing the images – whether photographs or videos -- to the final print. Canon participated in the photographing of this unique story and in its presentation at an exceptional venue. 


Thomas Coex is a photo reporter based in Paris who started as a freelance collaborator for AFP in Lille in 1987. He joined the permanent staff at the AFP headquarters in Paris in 1996. From 2001 to 2003, he was based in their Jerusalem office as head photographer with responsibilities for Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He then returned to Paris as photographer and editor for France until 2014. There was an interlude of one year between 2008 and 2009 when he worked at the office in Caracas. From 2014 to 2019 he returned to Jerusalem as head of photographic services. In 2001 he was awarded the World Press Photo third prize in the ‘News Story’ category for photographs taken in Gaza during the second Intifada, and he came second at the Bayeux Calvados Normandy Prize for war correspondents on the same subject.