Have you ever said “Warm water! Yummy!” Well, some of us have found ourselves saying this quite a bit in the past few weeks. To quote Dorothy Jean “water is water” and when you’re under a hot burning sun and you’ve walked a lot you don’t care if the water you’re carrying has gone warm or not: you just want water. And we’re not even working under the hot sun like many other local folks are!! Today we experienced a bit of this thirst as we did a walking tour in Nazareth.
We started by visiting the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. Tony walked us through the history and introduced to us Mary’s well. One of the places celebrated as the site where Mary received news from the angel Gabriel that she would be the mother of Jesus. There aren’t many images of Mary in this site, but the few found were immensely beautiful. Some of us found ourselves getting lost in meditation in this place!
Next we walked along the streets of Nazareth, encountering markets, busy streets, cars, people greeting each other and many houses. The spices could not be smelled yet as it was still early for lunch. We reached the Basilica of the Annunciation which is a spectacular church. Really huge, exceedingly beautiful and filled with meaningful symbols and icons that begged to be encountered. This is another place where Mary could have encountered Gabriel. It’s a two-story building that has a dome on the top that is 55 meters high. The first floor is celebrated as Mary’s home (where the grotto is) and the second floor holds a very large worship space decorated with mosaics of Mary donated by communities from around the world. The Church itself is also surrounded by gorgeous mosaics from around the world that depict Mary under the colorful lights of many different cultures from around the world.
Today we were given a good number of hours to visit this church as well as the Church of St Joseph (that was nearby) and then the city itself. We all went our separate ways looking for places to eat, places to purchase gifts, and just all the different ways we could experience Nazareth.
In the afternoon we visited Nazareth Village, an open air museum that recreates life in first century Nazareth. We were led through a tour of the village that was comprised of houses, fields, olive presses, wine presses, a synagogue and much more. As we visited these different corners of Nazareth Village we encountered people dressed in 1st century clothes that taught us about life in this place and era. It was quite extraordinary to see this and picture Jesus walking around in places like these. Nazareth Village really does a marvelous job at bringing the 1st century to the 21st century. We ended our afternoon with an early supper at Nazareth Village and then headed home for our regular Evening Prayers meeting and then some well-deserved rest.
We encourage you to keep praying for us as we leave Nazareth tomorrow and slowly make our way back home. We miss you and are looking forward to seeing you soon!
Peace be with you!
Anita Laura Fonseca (for the group)
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