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We reached Jerusalem at 15:00 hours. Jerusalem is known as a holy city in the world. It is the birthplace of three different religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) in the world. Jerusalem has been sacred to Judaism for roughly 3000 years, to Christianity for around 2000 years, and to Islam for approximately 1400 years. The 2000 Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem lists 1204 synagogues, 158 churches, and 73 mosques within the city. Israel is ancient yet among the most developed country in the world.
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Church of the Holy Sepulcher
There is an area where the crucifix was placed. There was a hole that you could crawl through to touch and pray on the actual rock that the crucifix was placed in. The line was enormous so I didn't go but EW went to say his prayers. Whatever, I can express my own beliefs if I want to. I have a very scientific mind and would like to know where exactly the actual dead body is. It would be a historical find. And if stupid religious people are hiding it somewhere just for the sake of people believing that he did rise from the dead, then that is the stupidest thing EVER.
Mount of Olives
We went to the Mount of Olives and got panoramic view of Jerusalem. I recommend to go to Mount of Olives in the morning as you won't be facing against the direct sunlight. It will be difficult to get the panoramic pictures of Jerusalem in the evening from Mount of Olives. Surprisingly, Mount of Olives comes under Palestine which is considered to be an occupied territory. We went to the Old City of Jerusalem and went to the Western Wall. Western Wall is the holiest site in Judaism. The wall has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage for centuries. It was time for holy site of Christianity. We went to see Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is the same place where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. In the evening, I went for a stroll on the Bridge of Strings which looked most beautiful under the lightings.I genuinely feel that 1 day was not sufficient for Jerusalem. However, due to time constraints I had to manage it somehow.
The Wailing Wall
Next, we visited the Wailing Wall which is now called the Western wall. It was the wall that the Jews cried upon when everything else in their city was destroyed. It is a holy wall that many people come to pray to. You must be covered when you enter the vicinity of the wall. EW standing in front of the Wailing Wall. Shame on you EW! You're not supposed to turn your back to the Wailing Wall. It's like turning your back to God! You're actually supposed to walk away from it backwards. The wall is separated into a female and male section so that neither sex distracts the other from prayer. You can see all of the guys praying on the wall behind EW. They have all written a tiny note of prayers which they fold and put into a crack in the wall.
Although it was a very short trip, it's experience will always remain in my heart . This was one of the most peaceful place among the places that i 'd visited so far.May be one day the whole world will realise that too.In my next blog on this place, i would bring to you more information about the kind of stay, how to get there and so on and so forth.
Garden of Gethsemane
Further down the hill we celebrated Mass at the Church of all nations –garden of Gethsemane. The church is surrounded by magnificent olive trees, some as old, perhaps, as 2,000 years. If only they could talk and bring us back in time when the Lord suffered alone with His apostle’s asleep. At the end of the Mass, each person knelt before the stone where Jesus experienced His agony. As each person touched the stone, you could see vividly their faith and their desire to understand just a little better all that Christ did for us out of love. After the mass we headed towards the Wailing Wall the most sacred site for the Jews , a place of high emotion and prayer. After lunch we visited the Church of the Birth of John the Baptist at Ein Karem (Vinyard Spring) .Our final stop was the Church of the Visitation. Mary walked all the way from Nazareth -- about 90 miles -- to be with Elizabeth. That distance gives us an inkling of Mary's charity and concern for others. My prayer is that we can each have a share of Mary's love in our love for others. We concluded our visit to the church by praying the Angelus.Day five started with visiting Bethany village. This village was the home of Jesus’ friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus and is situated on the far side of the Mount of Olives. We celebrated mass t the chapel and prayed to be always faithful to Christ just as his friends were to him. We then climbed down to Lazarus’ Tomb there were steep steps leading down to the rock chamber and it gives a good idea of what a tomb of the time would have looked like.
Via Dolorosa (Way of the Cross)
We went from here to walk the Via Dolorosa. The street was bustling with people, probably not unlike in the time of Christ. However now there are also cars and motorbikes and carts and bicycles weaving their way through the narrow streets. We sang and prayed at each of the stations. For some in our group walking is a difficulty, a real cross, but they stayed the course, a sign of their faith. We ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the Crusader Church at the site of the empty tomb. That empty tomb is the foundation of our faith and the blessed assurance that death does not prevail but is life in the risen Christ. The Sepulchre church is divided into different sections, each directed by one of the Christian faiths.We all climbed the steep staircase to Golgotha where Christ was crucified with prayer on our lips and faith in our hearts. I was moved to see the faith of our people at Mass in the empty tomb and on Golgotha. The day ended with a very powerful experience of the life of Christ. Each station of the cross passing through the Via Dolorosa was a witness to how much Christ loves us. It is a feeling never to be forgotten in a lifetime.The week has been very powerful for all of us, seeing and hearing so many things. We have walked the Way with Christ and, hopefully, have grown in our love for all that Christ did for us. The Scriptures will never be the same for us. We have seen what they describe in the scriptures.It was our last day and as we were leaving the mountain pathways of Jerusalem for Jordan, the Gospels were coming to life as we traveled and learned about the Holy Land. It is truly a blessing to travel the walk of Christ and feel and sense His message to all ages.
One of the most auspicious and holy sites for Muslims all around the world, the Al Aqsa Mosque is an ancient architectural beauty. The Al Aqsa mosque has a strong influence in the history of Islam. All the prayers were directed here before the Kaaba was built in Mecca. As a Legend goes, Prophet Muhammad was transported here by the angels from Mecca to protect him from his enemies. The Friday prayers at the Aqsa Mosque sees an overflowing crowd of people (32% of the population of Jerusalem are Muslim). Nearby is the Dome Of Rock, the place where the Prophet Muhammad is said to have been transported. The whole area is called The Noble Sanctuary including the mosque. Al-Aqsa was of great significance to me not only as a Muslim, but even as a traveler. It is a peek into one of the most significant aspects of Islam and a discovery of one of the three major parts of Jerusalem.
Dome of the Rock
My first stop was the Western Wall, a site crucial to the Jewish faith. Jews visit it regularly, mainly to mourn the loss of the Temple which once stood above but was destroyed in 586 BC by Babylonians and again in AD70 by Romans. The atmosphere is one of hushed silence and people take turns placing tiny folded notes to God between the stones. Next, I navigated my way to the Dome of the Rock. The Golden Dome of The Rock is the focal point of the Jerusalem skyline. Its exterior consists of a myriad of tiny, painted tiles in every imaginable shade of blue and green, topped by inscriptions from the Koran.