On Thursday, we made our way to the Herod Gate to start The Way of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa. Kitty’s approach has been to get there early to beat the crowds so that we can carry the cross, before the next tour groups, and the merchants open their shops.Thanks to Jay, Andree Barker’s son, a strong 24 year old back and willingness to help everyone, he managed to bring our own cross to the Monastery of the Flagellation to start the effort. An interesting website is http://landlopers.com/2011/04/03/walking-via-dolorosa-stations-cross-jerusalem-guide which will give you background etc.A few photos of our worthies on the Via….For more information on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, link to http://churchoftheholysepulchre.net
The most amazing thing happened – no one was in line, and we walked right into the tomb. In my 5 plus visits, I’ve never seen that happen. We then headed to a beautiful chapel of the Franciscans in the basilica and were joined by 46 pilgrims from Indonesia who asked to join us. Our only common hymn was the Alleluia! The dome reverberated!
Below, Jack and Connie posed by the door mentioned in a CNN story below.
The entry door is subject of the following story on how two Muslim families are entrusted with the keys re opening and closing. http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/26/middleeast/easter-muslim-keyholder/ There is an occasional scandal as Christian denominations contest certain parts (a euphemism) of this polyglot basilica, Hence a 3rd party controls who begins the day!
We made our way to the Basilica of St Anne, the mother of Mary, and again we were joined by a group of Mormon students. Together we sang Amazing Grace in this most amazing acoustic-perfect church, property of France, run by the White Fathers of Africa.
The Pool of Bethesda is adjacent to the church. Up to the time of great archeological digs of the 19th century, it was believed to be somewhat exaggerated, a metaphorical fiction. However, as you will see in the article, sure enough 5 covered porticoes were discovered just as described in the Gospel of John. Here is the Johannine reference. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+5%3A1-15&version=NASB .
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pool_of_Bethesda. My own photo is indicative of this deep source of water. If I recall Fr James Martin SJ his book Jesus: A Pilgrimage, mentioned this was one of his most moving sites.
Final item of the night. On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at an undeveloped site on the Hebron Rd. No work has been done on it but a brush aside of dirt showed a mosaic, part of an extensive church ruins which was dedicated to the journey of Mary to register the family along with Joseph in Bethlehem, according to Luke’s Gospel. The amazing thing is that the entire countryside is a spadeful of dirt away form a major archeological find.