Saturday, August 11, 2012

Holy Land Report #4

Day #2 of our pilgrimage took us to Nazareth the childhood home of Jesus. Here we visited the Basilica of the Annunciation where we celebrated Holy Mass.
Deacon Dale - Father Matt - Deacon Jerry

Interior View of the Basilica of the Annunciation

Basilica of the Annunciation Facade

Basilica of the Annunciation

It was here that the angel revealed to Mary that she had been selected by God to bear His son. The Basilica is unique in that so many parts of the structure create the letter "M" for Saint Mary. Inside the Basilica - around the interior - are many paintings of Saint Mary from various countries around the world. The image sent by the USA proved to be the least popular of all the images. 
Painting From USA

Outside - in the courtyard - was another display of paintings of Our Blessed Mother - again from various countries around the world - clearly showing to visitors how each county reverences and holds Saint Mary in such high regard.
Painting From Poland in Courtyard

The Basilica is built over what are believed to be the ruins of the place where the actual meeting between the angel and Saint Mary took place. 
Ruins Under Basilica Walkway

In the courtyard outside is a statue of the Blessed Mather and everyone had to have their picture taken with the statue. Of course - when requested by our pilgrims - both deacons and Father Matt were more than willing to pose.
Deacon Dale - Deacon Jerry - Father Matt

We departed Nazareth and headed to our next site. Earlier I had asked our tour guide if we could find a suitable place where we could have Father Matt do a special blessing for married couples - as my wife and I had just missed celebrating our 43rd wedding anniversary two days previously since we were in-flight - and two other couples had recently celebrated their 25th anniversaries. I wanted to include all married couples - after all getting a special blessing while in the Holy Land would be a perfect anniversary gift. Our guide not only found us a place - but it was at Cana - the site of the Lord's first miracle!  I was completely surprised that he was able to get us into an unscheduled location which normally has to be scheduled in advance. His reply to me was "only Cana would be proper - no other place" and so he made it happen. What a bonus and blessing for our group.
Cana Catholic Wedding Church

Father Matt led a short service in which all couples renewed their marriage vows and he included a special blessing for those who were traveling without their spouses. 
Cana Wedding Church

Leaving Cana we left for our next destination - Caesarea Maritima where Herod the Great built a magnificient harbor holding up to 300 ships. The technology used in the construction was very innovative - i.e. the materials used to construct the harbor was accomplished by using materials that would allow the concrete to harden under water. 
 Promontory Palace

 Side View of Theater

3500 Seat Capacity Theater

Caesarea Maritima

Our final stop of the day was at Mount Tabor to visit the Church of Transfiguration. This is the spot selected to commemorate the transfiguration of Jesus when he became "as bright as the sun" radiating light and conversing with Moses and Elijah. 
 Church of the Transfiguration

 Church of the Transfiguration

Church of the Transfiguration Garden

 Church of the Transfiguration Garden

Church of the Transfiguration Garden

The view from the mount was unbelievable as was the gardens around the church. Who would have expected such greenery and flowers in the desert. Thus ended the second day of pilgrimage - our pilgrims were excited about all they had seen and done - and this was only the second day - more to come - as with Jesus - there is always more that He has in store - He will never be done with us!

Deacon Dale