Day 4: Saturday

Saturday morning found the pilgrims atop the Mount of Olives to take in a view of the old city of Jerusalem. After a group picture, we began our decent down the mountain until we arrived at the Church of Dominus Flavit (the Lord wept). Here, the Gospel tells us, the Lord Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem, lamenting the refusal of its inhabitants to accept him, the long-promised Messiah (Luke 19:41-44). We continued on to the Garden of Gethsemane where, accompanied by Peter, James, and John, the Lord prayed most fervently to the Father regarding his upcoming passion. A few of the olive trees in the garden are 2,000 years old and witnessed Christ’s agony there. We then went to the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu which commemorates when Peter denied Our Lord three times. Beneath the church is the cave where Jesus was imprisoned overnight at the directive of the high priest Ciaphas. After reading Psalm 88, the pilgrims spent some time in silent prayer and reflection, with a sense of solidarity with the suffering Christ and in penitential sorrow for our sins. We then returned to Bethlehem and, following lunch, went to Shepherds’ Field, where the angles announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds on Christmas night. By late afternoon we were visiting En Karen, the birthplace of Saint John the Baptist and the place of the Visitation of Mary with her cousin Elizabeth. Mass was offered in the Church of St. John the Baptist. The day ended with our first entry into the old city of Jerusalem via the Jaffa Gate, a light show at the Tower of David, and a tour of Jerusalem by night. Tomorrow will bring more adventures and more memories.