Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Holy Sites For Christians in Israel
Churches In Israel
Christian Pilgrims have been visiting Israel for centuries. No wonder: the land where Jesus and the disciples lived is filled with historical sites and ancient churches that hold a tremendous importance for Christian believers. Many important churches in Israel are spread throughout the country, and are visited by thousands of believers every year. ??The following is a shortlist of some of the most significant churches in Israel:
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher - Jerusalem
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, within the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, is the first among the Christian shrines. According to Christian belief, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (refereed to as Golgotha, the Hill of Calvary, by most Christians) is where Jesus was crucified and buried. The resurrection has been celebrated there for many centuries as the most sacred place in all of Christendom.
The Chapel of the Ascension - Jerusalem
The Chapel of the Ascension in Jerusalem is believed by Christians to be where Jesus ascended into heaven. It is a holy site for Muslims as well, and serves as a church and a mosque. The first church was built there in 390 AD., the current chapel was built in 1150 AD., and the mosque was added in 1620 AD. It is located just south of the Mount of Olives.
The Church of the Nativity - Bethlehem
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is one of the most ancient churches in the world, and one of the most important churches in Israel. It was built over the supposed birth place of Jesus, and is considered sacred to Muslims as well.
Church of the Annunciation - Nazareth
The Church of the Annunciation, sometimes referred to as the Basilica of the Annunciation, is located in Nazareth, where - according to Roman Catholic tradition – Mary was told by Gabriel that she will be the mother of Jesus. The Church of the Annunciation is a pilgrims’ must-see and a tourists’ long time favorite. ??Church of St. Gabriel - According to the apocryphal Gospel, the Church of St. Gabriel (St. Mary’s well) is the actual place where Gabriel made the announcement to Mary. It is also located in Nazareth. ??The Church of St. Joseph is another main Christian attraction in Nazareth. Known as the supposed location of Joseph’s carpentry shop, the Church of St. Joseph is visited by many believers every year. The lower level contains the Grotto of the Annunciation, believed by many Christians to be the remains of the original childhood home of Mary.
Peter house in Capernaum
Capernaum is frequently mentioned in the Gospels and was Jesus' main base during his Galilean ministry. It is referred to as Jesus' "own city" (Mt 9:1; Mk 2:1) and a place where he lived (Mt 1:13). He probably chose it simply because it was the home of his first converts, Peter and Andrew (Mk 1:21, 29).
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law....
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up." (Mark 1:21-22, 29-30). Many familiar Gospel events occurred in this village. Capernaum is where Jesus first began to preach after the Temptation in the wilderness (Mt 1:12-17) and called Levi from his tax-collector's booth (Mk 2:13-17). It was while teaching in the synagogue of Capernaum that he said, "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (Jn 6:54)
Capernaum is where Jesus healed a centurion's servant without even seeing him (Mt 8:5-13; Lk 7:1-10), Peter's mother-in-law (Mt 8:14-15; Mk 1:29-30); the paralytic who was lowered thorugh the roof (Mk 2:1-12), and many others who were brought to him (Mt 8:16-17). And it was Capernaum that Jesus had set out from when he calmed a storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mt 8:23-27).
Jesus was harsh with his adopted home when it proved unrepentent despite his many miracles. "And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you" (Mt 11:23-24).
The Jesus Trail
The Jesus Trail is a marvelous new way for Christian visitors to Israel to feel, through all five senses, and their feet, the ministry of Jesus in the Galilee and to experience the land the way the ancients did.
The Jesus Trail meets the desire of many Christians to understand how the land reflects Scripture. Designed to be walked over three or four days, the 65-kilometer (40-mile) trail leads to Nazareth, Sepphoris, Cana, the Arbel Cliffs, Tabgha, Capernaum and the Mount of Beatitudes, Tiberias and the Jordan River. Among many highlights, in early spring, you’ll stop to take a field of bright red anemones or yellow daisies––Jesus’ “lilies of the field” (Luke 12:27). Walking a path between wild oats and thistles and a beautifully cultivated field, Jesus’ famed Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:3-9) makes perfect sense. Climbing to Sepphoris, near Nazareth, the city Jesus might have known as a boy, the image of the “city on a hill” (Matt. 5:14) comes into unforgettable perspective.
The Galilee is as multi-cultural now as when Jesus interacted with its many peoples. Christians talking the Jesus Trail will enjoy the hospitality of local people of all faiths and ethnic groups, adding a unique dimension to their experience, whether in home-stays, restaurants, hotels, historic sites, and on the trail itself.
Walkers can cover the trail at once or in segments, and the level of challenge is flexible. Overnight options extend from hotels, owner-operated bed-and-breakfasts to overnight camping, and there are many places to buy water and food along the way. Public buses are available at most starting and end-points.
From mid-December 2008, a volunteer will be on hand daily to meet walkers and accompany them along the first day of the Jesus Trail, from Nazareth to Sepphoris and Cana. For more information
Yardenit ("little Jordan") is a popular Baptism site. Here, the water flows into the Jordan river, eventually flowing into the Dead Sea located more than 100KM to the south. This site is believed by some traditions to be the actual site where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3: 13 : "Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John").
Many Christian pilgrims stop at this site and perform baptism ceremonies, normally in small groups and accompanied by the group's pastor. It is a remarkable and charming site - and should not be missed.
The site is located at the southern exit of the Sea of Galilee, just behind the gate of the Dam that is used on rainy winters to lower the level of the lake. The baptism site has a large parking lot, convenient dressing rooms, stairway to walk down into the waters, a restaurant and a shop.
You might also like to read:
Galilee & Upper Galilee
Golan Heights & Hermon Mount
The Coastal Plain
Netanya in Pictures
Tel Aviv - Jaffa
For the First Time the Main Road of Jerusalem, from 1,500 Years Ago, is Exposed
1,800 Years Old High-Level Aqueduct of Jerusalem Exposed Next to Jaffa Gate in the Old City