Holy Land 2020: Valley of Elah

March 27, 2020

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar led a group of 43 clergy and laity on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from Feb. 10-20, 2020. The guest spiritual leader for this pilgrimage was Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi, who serves the Pittsburgh Area. (Click here to enlarge group photo above).
Over the last few weeks, we have been sharing photos, videos and stories from the pilgrimage. The following is from days five and six of the journey. 

The Madonna at center is from Austria.
Click the images to enlarge

Basilica of Annunciation
The basilica in Nazareth has been a church since the 4th century AD; the current structure was completed in 1969. The basilica stands on what is believed to be the site of Mary’s house, where the angel Gabriel announced that she would give birth to Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). Mosaics of Mary, contributed by nations around the world, are in the courtyard and along the walls of the interior (see photos in the gallery at right).

The New England Conference has a long friendship with Mahmud Ghazal, owner of Samaria Restaurant and Mosleh Gift Shop. Pilgrims stopped there along with some shopping and the chance to ride a camel was a lunch featuring one of the house specialties a timbale of rice and cauliflower.

Jacob’s Well 
St. Photini the Samaritan in Nablus (formerly Shechem, near Samaria) is built above a well (John 4:4-30) that is more than 100 feet deep. Pilgrims had the chance to draw water up from the well and drink it. See photos in the gallery at right.

Nebi Samuel
Nebi Samuel, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, is the traditional tomb of prophet Samuel, with ruins from the Hasmonean period through the time of the Crusaders. There is a synagogue and a mosque on the site. At Nebi Samuel, there is a view of the city of Ramallah, the administrative capital of Palestine, and of the wall that divides Israel and Palestine. Pilgrims paused at the site to pray for the dismantling of all unjust walls.

The encounter on the Road to Emmaus is described in Luke 24:13-35 Since 1993, the Catholic Community of the Beatitudes has taken care of Emmaus-Nicopolis, receiving pilgrims and visitors. The site includes ruins from the Roman and Byzantine periods. At the site pilgrims who had participated in the Walk to Emmaus sang: Watch below:

Valley of Elah
During a visit to the Valley of Elah, pilgrims heard the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) brought to life by Rev. Rick McKinley. Watch below:

Ein Karem, Jerusalem
The Church of Saint John the Baptist in Ein Karem, Jerusalem, belongs to the Franciscan order. It was built at the site where it is believed John the Baptist was born.
Zechariah's song Luke 1:68-79 announces the birth of John the Baptist and proclaims God's faithfulness and salvation. At the site, pilgrims read Zechariah’s prophecy. Panels around the courtyard of the church feature the prophecy in different languages.

See other stories about the 2020 Pilgrimage