Basilica of the Annunciation
Text and photos by Dexter R. Matilla
Philippine Daily Inquirer
DateFirst Posted 22:05:00 04/26/2010
FOR A COUNTRY ROUGHLY 13 times smaller than the Philippines, Israel has much to offer in terms of religion, architecture, agriculture and technology.
But for Filipino Catholics, the lure of Israel will always be the Old City of Jerusalem. A walled city much like Intramuros, the Old City is divided into four quarters—Armenian, Christian, Jewish and Muslim.
It is the location of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where it is believed that Jesus Christ was crucified and buried.
Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre
Certainly the most meaningful route to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the Via Dolorosa, which follows Christ’s journey to Calvary after He was condemned by Pilate. Entry can be made through the Lion’s Gate, one of seven that remains open east of the Old City.
9th station of the Via Dolorosa
The route passes through the busy streets of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City and ends at the Christian Quarter. Praying at each Station, especially the first nine, may prove challenging as tourists are plentiful and the streets are narrow, getting lost is very common.
Greek Orthodox Calvary inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The 10th-14th Stations are inside the Holy Sepulchre Church, and it can be all the more crowded especially at the last Station, where people wait an hour or so waiting in a long line leading down to the Tomb of Christ.
North of Israel, some 90 miles from Jerusalem, is Galilee. This region is known for many of Christ’s public works, such as the miracles of the multiplication of the fish and loaves and of walking on water. It is also the site of the Sermon on the Mount.
Today, churches have been built to commemorate these significant events. One such is the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha.
According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the present church was consecrated in 1982 and followed the same plan of the 5th-century Byzantine church destroyed by the Persians in 614. The church’s interior is quite simple except for the wonderfully crafted mosaics that cover the floor.
At the center, of course, is the sacred stone believed to be the exact place where Christ fed 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish.
The stone where Jesus Christ performed the multiplication of the loaves and the fish
A glass covering on the right side of the altar protects what remains of the original church. Served by the Benedictines since 1939, it is also a daughter-house of the Dormition Abbey.
Before the miracle was the sermon where Christ enunciated the eight Beatitudes. Set on a small hill with a nice view of the Sea of Galilee is the Franciscan-run Church of the Beatitudes.
Inside the Church of the Beatitudes
Vestments of the late Pope John Paul II
While Nazareth is inhabited by some 60,000 Arab citizens, it is of great importance to Christians as this was where Christ spent most of His childhood.
Nazareth is where the angel Gabriel delivered the news to Mary that she would be bearing the Child Jesus. A Spanish pilgrim, Lady Egeria, visited Nazareth in 383 and was shown an altar inside a cave where Mary had supposedly lived.
Upper level of the Basilica of the Annunciation
Lower grotto of the Basilica of the Annunciation
The current Basilica of the Annunciation is already the fifth reconstruction. Designed by Giovanni Muzio, it is divided into two levels. The upper level has a 170-ft cupola which allows natural sunlight to illuminate the altar while the lower level enshrines the grotto believed to be the site of Mary’s original house.
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