Day #3 - the pilgrimage takes us to Jericho - Bethlehem - Shepherds' Field - the Church of the Nativity - the grotto where Jesus was born and St. Catherine's Church . In Jericho our first stop was at Tel Es-Sultan - also known as ancient Jericho - sitting directly across from Elisha's Spring and is the site of the ancient city. Jericho is the lowest city of the world at 250 meters or 820 feet below sea level and thought to be the oldest city in the world dating back to the 8th millennium BC or as archaeologists now term it BCE.
Tel Es-Sultan At The Ruins
Jericho Entrance Sign
Jericho City Sign Water Feature Complete With Ducks
Moving on in our pilgrimage we entered Bethlehem where our first stop was an opportunity to shop for souvenirs and gifts from the Holy Land. After all - when on a journey like this - you have to bring something home that reminds you of your journey. We stopped at Nissan Brothers - Bethlehem New Store located on Manger Street where our pilgrims browsed the vast display of items - particularly carved Olive Wood products - and jewelry. A few of us were given a tour in the workshop below to see how the Olive wood is processed and carved.
Olive Wood Piled in Workshop
Pilgrims do get hungry so after shopping it was off to the restaurant for lunch and local cuisine. Shown below are some of our pilgrims smiling and discussing their recent purchases.
Arlene - Pat - Karen - Lisa - Dolores - Ed - Heather
Sophia - Judy - Helen - Anita - Renee - Dan - Guy - Marilyn - Scott - Cherie
Dee - Deacon Jerry - Father Matt - Loretta - Tom - Dolores - Mary - Sam
Deacon Dale - Linda - Jim - Dennis - Annette - George - Marlene - Nancy - Barb
Our next stop was Shepherd's Field where the angels announced the birth of Jesus to those tending their flocks
Entrance to Shepherd's Field
Shepherd's Field Fountain
Today’s Church was built in 1954 above the restored 4th century lower church, representing a nomadic tent. The church was designed by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi. The dome is decorated with bronze angel designs and is made of glass windows that enable bright light to infuse the church, symbolizing the light that shined upon the shepherds when the Angel of the Lord appeared to them.
The Church of the Shepherd's Field
The Church Dome With Small Windows
Back on the bus and this time heading to the place where Mary gave birth to Jesus. In Bethlehem we walked to the Church of the Nativity - considered to be the oldest continuously operating Christian Church in the world.. As seen in the photo below the entrance to the Church is very low - the lady entering the church is about 5 foot 3 inches and even our shortest pilgrims had to lower the heads in order to enter. You will also note in the photo the arch line of stones above the entrance which shows the original entry. The entrance was modified by filling in that space to prevent the Turks from entering who routinely did so on horseback.
Entrance to the Church of the Nativity - The Door of Humility
Interior of Church of the Nativity
The Church is built over what is believed to be the cave or grotto where Jesus was born. Carefully going down the stone steps we entered the grotto where the place was marked with a fourteen point star. We took time for each pilgrim to reverence that spot either by bowing or kneeling with some kissing the star.
The 14 point Star Marking the Place of Jesus' Birth in the Grotto of the Nativity
The day ended with Holy Mass in the adjoining Church of St. Catherine. Staying for a Holy Hour afterwards.
Deacon Jerry - Father Matt - Deacon Dale
Before returning to our hotel we stopped for a group picture outside in the courtyard in front of St. Catherine Church. With God there is always time to rest in His Holy Spirit.