Sunday 16 September 2018
Today started with a long drive north to Nazareth and a visit to the Church of the Annunciation. A church built over the spot where legend says the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would bear God’s Son. This is a church to see! A modern mid-twentieth century Catholic design – it is just stunning – designed in the round with the most beautiful art installations donated from all over the world. We turned up just at the end of Mass and the singing and colour of the Sunday worship was wonderful! Next door we visit the ‘workshop’ of Joseph – ancient stone ruins of the original village. We then saw the church of St Joseph which is built over the site of the Holy family’s home. You can see down to the original street level while in the crypt.
We drove through the city of Cana (25,000 now – only 60 people in Jesus day!) and had the spot where the miracle of water being turned into wine pointed out to us – there is, surprise surprise, a church being constructed over the site. We went onto the ruins of Capernaum, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, to visit the house of Peter the fisherman. I took the chance to go down to the shoreline and splash around – didn’t try walking out though! It was a beautiful afternoon – not too hot, not a cloud in the sky and the lake gleaming in the sunlight.
Next came for me, one of the highlights of the entire tour – a drove up to the Mount of Beatitudes – the area where Jesus gave his famous ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ It was so beautiful and peaceful – you wanted to lie in the gardens and never leave. Of course – there is a church on the spot, but it was a modern design in the round with open windows to let the vista of the sea and surrounding green slopes flood in! Our guide was moved as much as we all were with the magic and serenity of the location. I couldn’t care less if this truly was the place or not – if it wasn’t in fact the place where Jesus came – then it should be!
Our final stop was a visit to the Jordan river – probably not the right part of the river for Jesus’ baptism by John, but that nevertheless was not deterring the number of people we saw being baptised by full immersion by the rather loud charismatic preacher.
We drove the long journey back to Jerusalem for a final farewell dinner at a lovely restaurant. The past two-and-a-half weeks have flown by and we have been amazed and inspired by all that we have seen, felt, tasted and done. It will take a while for it all the sink in but I hope the blogs have given readers a taste of our journey.
Tomorrow sees the hardy nine break-up and go their separate ways. I am off to Scotland to join the Australian Welsh Male Choir for our three-week tour of the UK starting on Friday. I hope to be making some blog posts about this trip – so if you are keen – stay tuned!
Church of the Annunciation
The door in!
Donated by Catholics from France
Lower level – 5th century ruins of church built over Mary’s house?
Sea of Galilee
The Vicar of St Peter’s in front of the fisherman himself!
Final Dinner of tour