Such a busy day! Lots of visits to important sites in the life of Jesus; I’m ready for a nice hot shower and big meal now!
We started the day early, at 8am, to head to Cana, famous for the wedding feast and Jesus turning the water into wine. Here, our guide Ibrahim took us to the Franciscan church where married couples renew their wedding vows. We saw under the church some examples of ancient homes that families used to live in. It brought to life in a new way the reality of the lives of those who came before us.
After this, Ibrahim took us to a shop where they sell wine. Being famous for the wedding feast and the miracle Jesus performed, the shop owner allowed to us taste samples of their wine – the sweet was the best, and I decided to buy four small bottles.
Following our purchases, the youth pilgrimage then made its way to Mount Tabor. Some say it looks like a woman’s breast, but to me, when I looked at it, I kept imagining what its summit would look like with a Christ the Redeemer statue on top, like the one in Rio de Janeiro. It would certainly not go unnoticed!
We went up the hill in minibuses and, upon reaching the summit, were treated to the beautiful view of the Church of the Transfiguration and the vast landscapes below. We had an intimate Mass in one of the side chapels of the church – up close and personal with Jesus in the Eucharist! I like going to Mass in situations different from the usual standard church setting; tiny chapels, tropical beaches or university dining rooms – all add to the universal nature of the celebration of the Mass.
Our next destination was Nazareth – we were off to the Basilica of the Annunciation, where the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to Jesus. From the outside, the basilica was impressive, surrounded by walls of mosaics made by nations around the world. Inside, the atmosphere almost became surreal. Light from warm, colourful stained-glass windows brightly shone through, into the basilica marked with thousands of small holes in the concrete walls. Booming organ music resonated throughout the structure. At first, it all reminded me of the Phantom of the Opera.
As we walked further into the new-looking basilica, I saw in the heart of the building an ancient-looking structure. It could have almost looked like the stage for a theatrical performance. In fact, it was the ruins of the house of Mary, when she was told that she would be the mother of Jesus. There was something surreal, but also stunning, about the scene – a modern basilica, with ancient ruins at its heart.
After the stunning basilica, we made our way to the synagogue church – an apparent contradiction but in fact it was previously a synagogue, now converted into a small church.
It was a tiring day – but incredible too. If only the same could be said for the speed of the internet connection in the hotel!
To see more of our photos, check out our Flickr collection here.