Entering the City of Peace

The Holy Land youth pilgrimage now makes its way to Jerusalem – a city steeped in history and important to Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Camel riding in the desert!
Camel riding in the desert!

Today, the Holy Land youth pilgrimage makes its way to the City of Peace – Jerusalem.

Waking up at 5:30am, we soon made our way onto the coach and headed to the city. However, before getting there we made a short stop at a petrol station and had some unexpected camel rides. A few of us got the opportunity to ride a camel parked in the car park. Everyone had a great time, though the camel’s tongue was pretty creepy!

Everyone at Pater Noster
Everyone at Pater Noster
The Our Father in many languages
The Our Father in many languages

Once arriving in Jerusalem, our first visit was to Pater Noster – or Our Father in English. This is a fairly normal-looking church inside, but its most striking feature is that on its walls and throughout the courtyard are over one hundred versions of the Our Father prayer in different languages.

Awww what a lovely couple
Awww what a lovely couple

After we left Pater Noster, we made our way down the city slopes, walking through a large graveyard on the way to the church of Dominus Flevit, which means The Lord Wept in English. We had Mass here, which was celebrated with the Cardinal. Inside this little church is a beautiful view of Jerusalem from a distance; it was a wonderful location to have Mass and reflect on Jesus’ days in the city.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrating Mass at Dominus Flevit
Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrating Mass at Dominus Flevit
Westminster Youth Ministry in Jerusalem
Westminster Youth Ministry in Jerusalem

As we left the church, Islamic calls to prayer could be heard bellowing out around the city. This really added to the sense that we were in a foreign land. Not simply a city with ancient churches, this is a city where the three Abrahamic faiths live together.

"Peace" in the Garden of Gethsemane
“Peace” in the Garden of Gethsemane

We then made our way down to the Garden of Gethsemane. Although the olive trees here were naturally not the same as those during the life of Jesus, they helped give us a sense of what his final night would have been like. Next to the garden was the Church of All Nations. Inside this church, in front of the altar, was a large rock on the floor, where Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

The Cardinal praying in the Church of All Nations
The Cardinal praying in the Church of All Nations

Following the Church of All Nations, we went to the Yad Vashem holocaust museum. This was a moving experience, as all of us made our way slowly through the prism-shaped museum – reading, watching, learning about what happened to the Jewish people in the first half of the last century.

The crew in their new home at the Gloria hotel
The crew in their new home at the Gloria hotel

We then went to our hotel, the Gloria. It’s located inside the old city of Jerusalem and the whole place looks like it was carved out of the ground. As I write this, it feels like I’m in a cave.

It’s been a busy day, but very rewarding, enlightening and inspiring. Looking forward to tomorrow!