Ascension, Gethsemane, Mary’s Tomb, and John’s House
My post today includes thoughts from fellow pilgrims, including Fr. Chris, Maria, George, and Georgia, which they shared with me as we visited these holy sites.
1. Church of the Ascension. We went to the Church of the Ascension, and we had the opportunity to visit with the monk, Achilles, and learn of the trials and tribulations of those who live in the center of anguish. We then visited the site of the Ascension, where we venerated Jesus’s footprint, the place where he stood in his last moment on earth, before he ascended to heaven.
2. Garden of Gethsemane. This is a beautiful place full of olive trees, where Jesus prayed before he was betrayed by Judas. We could visualize Jesus praying. It was very touching, as the church was dark to convey the feeling and time of when Jesus was arrested.
3. Tomb of the Virgin Mary. It is such a sacred place, and it is very beautifully maintained. Take a look at the icon outside of her tomb. Incredibly special.
4. Saint John’s House. We saw the house of the apostles John, and the room where the apostles were gathered when Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection. It was beautiful to see and feel that moment. After Christ was resurrected, the apostles were having dinner and Jesus entered the locked room and appeared to them. He asked Thomas to touch his wound so that Thomas would believe it was actually Jesus. That is the story of the doubting Thomas, as he did not believe until he touched Christ after his ascension.
If we were to try to summarize everything we have seen today, it could best be expressed in the words of one of the pilgrims: “It’s unbelievable. Everything is unbelievable. If you were not a Christian when you visited the Holy Land, you would become one.”