Jerusalem Diary

Christian Sites in the Old City

After a class discussing key texts in the New Testament (from the Book of Matthew and the Gospel of Mark) and the Qur’an (Al Faticha), students went into the Old City to visit the Church of Sainte Anne, walk the Stations of the Cross on the Via Dolorosa, explore the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and ended the day at the Armenian Church of Saint James.

Reflection from Frank Mastroianni, 26.5.22

As a Christian, today was an incredibly important day. I got to visit sites that I had learned about in Church all my life, and see it for myself. As Yossi said at the end of the tour, I could not stop thinking about my privilege in being here. Billions of Christians have dreamed of coming here over the millennia, and only small fraction have. I could not stop thinking about my late grandmother (Abuelita) who died in November 2021. She died at 87 years old, but because she was raised poor and then raised 5 children, she never had a chance to come. Now she is with God, but I am able to see a little more of His glory and feel connected to her in death.

My favorite part of the day was seeing the universal adoration of the stone on which Jesus’ body was prepared for burial (the 13th stage of the cross). I saw people from so many different backgrounds rub cloths, rosaries, and other items on the stone to get a little bit of its holiness in them. This reminds me of yesterday’s discussion, the desire for humans to find meaning in their lives. They became so emotional here because this place has meaning from them, and is about how our God gave up his only Son so that we may live never die. I loved watching the universal experience of venerating this site, across cultures and ages. In every mother, I saw my own. In every child, I thought of myself when I was young. I will never forget this experience for as long as I live, and I hope to bring my children and spouse here one day.

Student Tomia Patterson, enjoying the acoustics and gracing the group with her beautiful voice, at the Church of Sainte Anne.

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