Read the daily quote from Pope Francis



We have arrived in the Holy Land!

Today we are traveling to Jerusalem, the “City of Peace.”

About 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, we pass Elah Valley where the young shepherd boy David killed the giant Philistine Goliath (1 Samuel 17). 

When we are about seven miles from Jerusalem, we see the town of Emmaus where two disciples were heading after the Crucifixion when the Resurrected Jesus appeared to them on the road (Luke 24:13-35), and where the Ark of the Covenant was kept before King David moved it to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).

We also pass Ein Karem, an ancient town mentioned in Jeremiah 6:1, a few miles southwest of Jerusalem, where tradition tells us Zechariah and Mary's cousin Elizabeth lived. After the Annunciation, Mary traveled 100 miles from Nazareth to stay with her cousin until John the Baptist was born (Luke 1:39-56).

We arrive in Jerusalem, a city built by David in 1004 BC, built on the Judean Mountains, surrounded by valleys, and a holy place for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. 

Picture: The Wailing Wall or the Western Wall. This is all that remains of the Second Temple after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. This wall is part of the foundational retaining wall on which the Temple was built. The Temple housed the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God. This wall is the closest Jews can be to the Holy of Holies underneath the rubble of the Temple.

Picture: We enter the Damascus Gate into the Old City of Jerusalem.

Picture: The Damascus Gate of the ancient city. The current Jerusalem is built 10 feet on top of the old city of Roman time.

Picture: A map of Jerusalem. We are going from the Damascus Gate to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built by St. Helena and Emperor Constantine over the place Jesus died, was buried, and Resurrected from the dead. 

Picture: Of the 8 gates of the Old City, the Damascus Gate leads us to the Via Dolorosa, the "Walk of Pain", the Way of the Cross. Pilgrims often carry a cross as they follow Christ's footsteps up to Golgotha. 

Picture: The Seventh Station: Jesus falls for the second time on his way to Golgotha. 

Picture: Via Dolorosa, Ninth Station: Christ falls a third time. We are going to the dome in the background, the dome of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 

Picture: Walking through the narrow streets of Jerusalem up to Golgotha which is under the Church of the Holy Sepulchre just ahead of us.

Picture: Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built by St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, and consecrated in 339 AD. Upstairs is where we believe Christ was crucified. Fortunately, the Romans marked the places they destroyed in their rampage against the holy places for Jews and Christians in 70 AD.


Pictures: The Anointing Stone. After Jesus died, his body was laid on this stone, anointed with oils and spices, and then placed in a tomb.

Picture: The altar covers the place the Cross of Christ stood on Calvary's Hill, Golgotha. 

Picture: In a chapel beneath where Christ was crucified, you can see evidence of a 1st century earthquake in the rock of Golgotha. 


Pictures: The tomb of Christ, not far from where he was crucified, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Early Christians built a chapel over the empty tomb as it is the location of the Resurrection. 


Pictures: The Upper Room (inside and outside). After we exit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we stop by the Upper Room where Jesus and his disciples celebrated the Last Supper. To find a place for Passover Jesus sent his disciples into Jerusalem to look for a man carrying water who will show them the Upper Room. How would the disciples know which man carrying water is the right man? Well, it would have been easy as carrying water was a woman's job at that time (Mark 14:12-16).


Next we will visit Bethlehem, where Jesus was born.



Holy Land Pilgrimage

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Follow Msgr. Lofton's group pilgrimage to the Holy Land: October 19th - November 4th.


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