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Stories from The Holy Land

Saul and the origins of the monarchy

Saul and the origins of the monarchy

Historical studies of the books of Samuel, along with archaeological findings, allow us to approach the time period in which the biblical narratives about the origins of the monarchy are situated. The book of Judges, in chapters six through nine, alludes to a series...

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Mary, Daughter of Zion

Mary, Daughter of Zion

The name Zion dates back to the times of David. The city of David was called Zion for its fortress, referenced in the second book of Samuel: "David nevertheless captured the fortress of Zion, which is the City of David." (2 Samuel 5:7, USCCB). This name later referred...

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The Book of Judges

The Book of Judges

In the 12th and 11th centuries BC, there was great instability in the land of Israel. The Israelite tribes fought to conquer and control their own valleys and towns against the powerful inhabitants of the area, while facing sporadic invasions by peoples from faraway...

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Easter on the Road to Emmaus

Easter on the Road to Emmaus

There exists a deeply rooted tradition surrounding the events that occurred nearly 2000 years ago, though its current form has only been established for a few years: the Road to Emmaus. On Easter Monday, before dawn, a group of friends and pilgrims from around the...

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As in a Movie

As in a Movie

A frequently employed narrative technique is the flashback: the writer or screenwriter begins by introducing the theme in its current context. But suddenly, the viewer or reader is catapulted into a jump back in time, illustrating the narrative with a series of highly...

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Psalm 22, Jesus on the Cross

Psalm 22, Jesus on the Cross

The Gospels record the words of Jesus in Greek, the common language of the area, although he mostly spoke Aramaic. There are very few exceptions, and the most notable is this phrase from the cross: “‘Eloi Eloi lema sabachthani?’ (which means: ‘My God, my God, why have...

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That third Passover in Jerusalem

That third Passover in Jerusalem

As a devout Israelite, Jesus would celebrate the Jewish Passover (Pesach) every year. In his early years, he did so with his father Joseph and his mother Mary; and later, with his disciples. In Nazareth, Jesus learned from his father Joseph how to preside over the...

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Joshua

Joshua

The Pentateuch ends with the death and burial of Moses. At the beginning of the following book, the Lord speaks to Joshua, saying: “Moses my servant is dead. So now, you and the whole people with you, prepare to cross the Jordan to the land that I will give the...

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The New Year 2023-2024 at Saxum Visitor Center

The New Year 2023-2024 at Saxum Visitor Center

Dear friends, As many of you know, in mid-October 2023 we decided to close the Visitor Center. With the onset of the war, the uncertainty in the development of events was great, and part of the staff left the country. During this painful time, we have received...

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On which bank of the Jordan was Jesus baptized?

On which bank of the Jordan was Jesus baptized?

The two shores of the Jordan River receive flows of pilgrims who come to commemorate the baptism of Jesus and to renew the promises of their own baptism (Henri Gourinard, 2017).In our times, Christians from the regions surrounding the Jordan River - Israel and...

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The First Christmas with the Shepherds of Bethlehem

The First Christmas with the Shepherds of Bethlehem

The commotion in Heaven is tremendous! The day of the Child's birth arrives, and here "Child" is capitalized because it is the Word, "all things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be" (John 1:3). God the Father had this Child in mind when He...

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Skills of a Galilean Fisherman

Skills of a Galilean Fisherman

  Andrew, like his brother Simon, hailed from Bethesda and resided in Capernaum, a village on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where he worked as a fisherman. After the miraculous first catch of fish, he, along with the other three fishermen who became...

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Sub Tuum Praesidium

Sub Tuum Praesidium

This prayer addressed to the Virgin Mary is the oldest hymn in which her role as Mother of God is proclaimed. It appears in a Greek document from the year 250, so it is highly likely that this prayer was already being recited prior to that date. The Greek word Θεοτόκε...

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Gethsemane: The olive press

Gethsemane: The olive press

Olive trees in December, the road between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Photo: Reed Miller.The spectacular expansion of Jerusalem's urban fabric in recent decades has led to the disappearance of farmland around the city, particularly olive groves. These now exist only as...

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Dear friends,

Dear friends,

We sincerely appreciate your expressions of affection, messages, and prayers in this painful situation. It is always a valuable help to have your support and prayers for peace in this Holy Land. We will keep in touch and, God-willing, will be able to welcome your...

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Pilgrimage to the Holy Land: before and after your journey

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land: before and after your journey

The clock and the daily rush. We live in a fast-paced world, and at the end of every school year, I find that we all need a break that aligns with what Pope Benedict XVI once described as the ideal vacation: "a time to relax the body and strengthen the spirit." So, I...

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Mary Queen of the Universe

Mary Queen of the Universe

On the last Sunday of October, the invocation "Mary Queen of the Holy Land" is venerated in Jerusalem, which this year is celebrated on October 29th.  This feast was confirmed by St. John Paul II on January 24, 1994. Mary has been venerated as the Queen of Heaven...

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The Good and Bad Fish in the Sea of Galilee

The Good and Bad Fish in the Sea of Galilee

Among the parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, preached from the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus explains one easily understandable to the lake's fishermen: " The kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it...

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Holy Land Dialogues Returns!

Holy Land Dialogues Returns!

Approximately three and a half years ago, participants in the third edition of Holy Land Dialogues (HLD) were flying back to their respective countries just days before borders around the world closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Historically, neither distances,...

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Mary’s discerning knowledge of wisdom

Mary’s discerning knowledge of wisdom

The people of Israel viewed wisdom as a means of communicating with Yahweh. Devout Jews used not only the Torah but also the Psalms, the Book of Proverbs, and the other wisdom writings in their prayers. Unlike the objective culture of Greece and Rome, they addressed...

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The Holy Land changes life

The Holy Land changes life

Shalom!   Shalom! Let me tell you there’s no better way to experience the Holy Land than during the weeks I have spent at the Saxum Visitor Center. I arrived at the start of Holy Week and was able to join the crowds on Palm Sunday and witness thousands of locals and...

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The Temple of Jerusalem and its atriums

The Temple of Jerusalem and its atriums

The most important building in Jerusalem during the times of Jesus was its temple. The building, having been expanded by Herod, was built on an elevated surface, of near rectangular shape, more than five hundred meters in length and three hundred meters in width. That...

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The Storms at the Sea of Galilee

The Storms at the Sea of Galilee

We continue with the series of articles about the Sea of Galilee. In the first article, we analyzed "The Sea of Galilee and its Climate" and in the second "The Winds at the Sea of Galilee". The strongest winds often bring storms, and as the Gospel points out, on at...

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Elijah and John, the Baptist

Elijah and John, the Baptist

One wonders why John the Baptist's clothing would interest Matthew so that he takes time to describe it. "Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey" (3:4). Returning to the historical...

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Ein Karem, Homeland of Saint John the Baptist

Ein Karem, Homeland of Saint John the Baptist

By the end of the Middle Ages, illuminations in the books of hours depicted the Visitation scene following very conventional models. The Virgin Mary is cloaked in a sky-blue mantle; her cousin Elizabeth in a purple robe or mantle, with a white veil. The encounter...

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The Upper room, Cenacle and Pentecost

The Upper room, Cenacle and Pentecost

St. Mark narrates, “He sent two of his disciples, and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the householder, ‘The Teacher says, ‘Where is my guest room, where I am to eat the...

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Grateful and blessed for our Holy Land and Saxum experience

Grateful and blessed for our Holy Land and Saxum experience

My trip to the Holy Land came as an unexpected but welcome blessing. Fortunately, we Filipinos don't need a visa to enter Israel. Most importantly, I entrusted my trip and mission to God. One goal I had at the top of my mind was to help the pilgrims coming from the...

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St. George and the Holy Land

St. George and the Holy Land

Tel Aviv airport, the gateway for every pilgrim that arrives in the Holy Land, is located in the neighboring municipality of Lod – formerly Lydda or Diospolis. In this city, St. Peter stopped to cure Aeneas, a sick disciple (Acts 9:32-35), while traveling from...

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The Winds at the Sea of Galilee

The Winds at the Sea of Galilee

This article is a continuation of my previous article, “The Sea of Galilee and Its Climate.” Jesus was well aware of the weather conditions at the Sea of Galilee because he lived for three years in the shore town of Capernaum. As narrated by Saint Luke (12:54-59),...

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The Virgin Mary in Islam

The Virgin Mary in Islam

Pilgrims to the Holy Land might be unaware of the fact that their devotion to the Virgin Mary is shared by numerous Muslims. Starting with the sacred book of Quran, many Islamic writings praise our Lady, presenting her as an example of virtues and obedience to God,...

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The Sea of Galilee and its Climate

The Sea of Galilee and its Climate

As recounted by Saint Matthew, “when [Jesus] heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali” (Mt 4, 12-13). Jesus begins his public life in Capernaum, a small...

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The work of the early Christians

The work of the early Christians

Three cultures coexist in Israel at the time Jesus is born in Bethlehem of Judea. On the one hand, are the people of Israel, a civilization that has existed for 1,800 years. It originates with a group of nomads beginning with Abraham and which, guided by Jehovah, is...

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The Holy Sepulcher – The memory of the Place

The Holy Sepulcher – The memory of the Place

Many treasures are hidden inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. On the fringes of the classic walk that takes the pilgrim from Calvary to the Tomb of Our Lord, with a stop at the Stone of Unction, there are a good number of chapels that commemorate the events of...

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The Holy Places in the Holy Land

The Holy Places in the Holy Land

Saint Jerome lived many years in Bethlehem, where he translated the Bible into Latin.  To him, this land was a sort of “fifth Gospel,” because if each of the four Gospels provides us with additional insight about Jesus, getting to know the geography of the land where...

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The Chair of Moses

The Chair of Moses

"Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida!...”(Mt 11:21). With these harsh words, Jesus condemns the hardness of heart and lack of faith of two cities in which he undertook the first phase of his public ministry. Returning to Galilee with his disciples after...

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History’s Timeline and the Old Testament

History’s Timeline and the Old Testament

The Bible tells a great story starring God and man, which is the story of salvation. It is not a conventional story about ancient Israel, but neither is it an imaginary fiction about an ancestral time. Its pages speak of relevant people and events of the past that can...

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The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem

After the circumcision, the Law of Moses established that the firstborn son was to be presented to the Lord and then ransomed; in addition, the mother had to purify herself of the legal impurity contracted (cf. Ex 13:2; 12-13. Lev 12:2-8). This offering of every...

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Reading the Gospel in Capernaum

Reading the Gospel in Capernaum

During pilgrimages, guides habitually ask the accompanying priest to read a Gospel passage related to the place the pilgrims are visiting. At the basilica of the Annunciation, the Grotto of the Nativity, or the Church of the Transfiguration, to cite three examples, it...

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The Conversion of Saint Paul

The Conversion of Saint Paul

Saul marches towards Damascus to round up as prisoners the Christians that had fled the persecution in Jerusalem, when suddenly a light appears, he falls to the ground and hears a voice from heaven that says to him “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” At that...

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The Lands of the Bible

The Lands of the Bible

On the eastern shore of the Mediterranean there is a long strip of fertile land that, since the beginning of history, has been a natural thruway for caravans traversing extensive deserts to travel between Egypt and Mesopotamia.  God promised that land to Abraham: “All...

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Christmas from Bethlehem: stories, places, and relics.

Christmas from Bethlehem: stories, places, and relics.

Christmas stories In the Middle Ages, Catholic pilgrims would visit the main sites of Jerusalem, and then set out on a multi-day pilgrimage to Bethlehem and the mountains of Judah. They were accompanied by a guide and interpreter (the dragoman) and by some Franciscan...

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From Nazareth to Bethlehem

From Nazareth to Bethlehem

Most probably, the Holy Family traveled to Bethlehem along the pilgrim’s way.  It wasn’t the shortest, but it was the safest and most cost-effective for a poor and pious family. Upon leaving Nazareth, Joseph and Mary went across Cana.  Before reaching the Lake of...

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God’s covenants with man

God’s covenants with man

A covenant is a bilateral agreement in which each of the contracting parties makes some sort of serious commitment. In the ancient Near East, covenant treaties between heads of nomadic clans, or also between nations and kingdoms, established agreements between peoples...

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Mary, conceived without original sin

Mary, conceived without original sin

Until the thirteenth century, many theologians thought that Mary was conceived with the stain of original sin and subsequently, the same as John the Baptist and others, was cured of it in the maternal womb.  Even Thomas Aquinas describes it that way, saying that “if...

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Capernaum: Jesus in Peter’s house.

Capernaum: Jesus in Peter’s house.

"As he was passing by the Sea of Galilee,” one day, Jesus “saw Simon and Andrew, Simon's brother, casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen" (Mk 1,16). Later, under very similar circumstances, Jesus called the sons of Zebedee. "And they left their father...

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Who was Abraham?

Who was Abraham?

God's call to Abram, in the eighteenth century before Christ, is God's entry into human history. God makes himself known to Abram as the only true God and asks him to leave his land and set out for a country to which He will guide him. To encourage him to obey, God...

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The Golden Gate and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Golden Gate and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

The Golden Gate and the Exaltation of the Holy Cross From the front of the Church of “Dominus Flevit” in Jerusalem, a tour guide calls his pilgrims attention to the eastern wall of the Esplanade of Mosques. Just below the Dome of the Rock, the double arch of an...

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Bible Portico: more languages available

Bible Portico: more languages available

A gateway to the Bible Saxum International Foundation publishes Bible Portico, a book that helps to better understand the Sacred Scripture, with timelines, maps and graphics for each of the books. For centuries, pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela have seen their faith...

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Sepphoris: Jesus’ hidden life beyond Nazareth

Sepphoris: Jesus’ hidden life beyond Nazareth

We are accustomed to imagining Jesus’ hidden life as a quiet one in the small and peaceful village of Nazareth, working in the carpenter’s workshop with Joseph. However, historical research about Sepphoris allows us to go beyond this image and enrich the context in which his childhood, youth, and early adult years could have unfolded.  

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How was a trip to the Holy Land 700 years ago?

How was a trip to the Holy Land 700 years ago?

In the era of massive tourism, we are used to pilgrimages in which we reach the Holy Land by plane, travel around it inside an air-conditioned bus, stay in friendly hotels and eat in restaurants. But have you ever wondered how pilgrimages were back in time?

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Emmaus Trail, a Guidebook

Emmaus Trail, a Guidebook

Emmaus Trail, a Guidebook has been finally published. We hope that many pilgrims and hikers will enjoy the experience of discovering all the historical, archaeological and biblical sites that can be found along the way. 

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Graphics: a way to discover the Holy Land

Graphics: a way to discover the Holy Land

On Monday, April 25, Saxum Visitor Center will host an event under the title Graphics: a way to discover the Holy Land. This conference will discuss how visual journalism tried to explain the most important site for Christianity: the Holy Sepulchre.

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Pilgrims are back to stay

Pilgrims are back to stay

More than 10,000 kilometers separate Rio de Janeiro from Jerusalem.This is the distance that Raul traveled to make one of those life-changing trips: a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. 

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Hooked on the Holy Land experience

Hooked on the Holy Land experience

Marion Barot enjoys getting to know new countries and people. For this reason, her first trip to the Holy Land in 2017, of just six days, was not enough for her. She fell in love with the experience and came back again for three weeks.

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A trip to read the Gospel with new eyes

A trip to read the Gospel with new eyes

“It’s amazing; everyone should come. You are walking and seeing the Gospel with your own eyes.” Amparo, of Valencia, Spain, is among the first to visit the Holy Land since the pandemic, thanks to the lifting of travel restrictions to the country.

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Flevit super illam, a portrait of Jerusalem

Flevit super illam, a portrait of Jerusalem

In this painting of imposing magnitude, the viewer enters the scene from behind the disciples and sees Jesus in profile. All gazes – of surprise and amazement – are directed towards him. It is dusk in Jerusalem and the first star has arisen.

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Archaeology Congress at Saxum Visitor Center

Archaeology Congress at Saxum Visitor Center

The annual congress of the Israeli Antiquities Department took place at Saxum Visitor Center’s conference hall on August 5th. It was the fifth edition of the Judean Hills Archaeology, Environment and Community Congress.

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Photo gallery: the Church of the Tomb of Mary

Photo gallery: the Church of the Tomb of Mary

This church dates back to the 12th century, the times of the First Crusade. It is shared by the Orthodox Eastern Churches and contains the place where tradition says the body of Mary was laid before being taken to Heaven.

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Jerusalem dressed in white

Jerusalem dressed in white

The snow storm that had covered Athens arrived in Jerusalem a couple of days later. Although not as heavy as the Greek one, it left a beautiful white picture of the Holy City and its surroundings.

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HLD 2020 – One Year and a Pandemic Later

HLD 2020 – One Year and a Pandemic Later

One year ago, when we first started to hear about the coronavirus spreading from China, we were immersed in preparations for the third Holy Land Dialogues (HLD).  HLD is a pilgrimage to the Holy Land that combines spiritual and academic elements with participants from around the world.  

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“If the world has one home, it is the Holy Sepulchre”

“If the world has one home, it is the Holy Sepulchre”

The Holy Sepulchre is probably the most fascinating site of the Holy Land. However, many tourists and pilgrims get the impression of a very chaotic and crowded place, with people shouting, pushing, and where it is difficult to find a moment of silence to meditate.  

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Deborah and Barak

Deborah and Barak

Yet another biblical story on Mount Tabor… The first major event in the history of the Bible which took place in the surroundings of Mount Tabor was the victory of Deborah and Barak in their battle against the Canaanites. 

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Christian sites: an option for local tourists

Christian sites: an option for local tourists

Travelling is not that easy this summer due to the pandemic restrictions. Therefore, local tourism has boosted. Israel has not been an exception and this situation has strengthened the trend of Israelis visiting the Christian sites in their country.  

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Post-Covid19 tour guide course

Post-Covid19 tour guide course

Wednesday June 10, Saxum Visitor Center staff received a group of tour guides after reopening of museums and similar institutions in Israel was allowed.

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Shavuot and Pentecost

Shavuot and Pentecost

Shavuot is the Jewish feast day which commemorates that God gave the Ten Commandments of the Law to Moses in Mount Sinai, after the people of Israel fled from Egypt.

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The Holy Sepuchre remains silent

The Holy Sepuchre remains silent

Everything has changed since the tourists left and it was closed due to the coronavirus. The square is usually empty except for a few people praying before the doors or a neighbour passing by.

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Going back to Galilee

Going back to Galilee

When Jesus appeared to the women, he told them: “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee”. That is why we find Peter and the others fishing in the lake as they used to do before.

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Hosanna! Following Jesus To Jerusalem

Hosanna! Following Jesus To Jerusalem

Ten days after I arrived in Israel, I found myself singing “Hosanna”, along with thousands of Christians, in the ancient village of Bethphage. In Bethphage, there is a church that commemorates the place where Jesus found the donkey he would ride into Jerusalem.

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HLD Talks 2020: “A lot depends on us”

HLD Talks 2020: “A lot depends on us”

In this year’s Holy Land Dialogues (HLD), after popular request, participants were able to hear about the Holy Land from those who know it best: entrepreneurs, journalists, activists, and scholars who live here. These sessions took place after dinner, after a day of visiting sites. 

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“Forgiveness goes beyond the laws of justice”: HLD 2020 Conference Day

“Forgiveness goes beyond the laws of justice”: HLD 2020 Conference Day

As part of Saxum Foundation’s annual pilgrimage, “Holy Land Dialogues”, pilgrims spend time each week thinking about a topic related to dialogue in the Holy Land and wherever they live. This year’s topic was forgiveness, and February 26 found the participants at the Notre Dame Center of Jerusalem, taking a break from visiting Holy Sites to listen to lectures on the topic.

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You’ve never lived anywhere like this

You’ve never lived anywhere like this

“The center of the world,” some call it. For others, “a city in transit” or “a meeting of strangers”. The always restless Holy Land, the Promised Land… Jerusalem. Eternal Jerusalem.

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A Visit from the Nuncio

A Visit from the Nuncio

On July 6, Saxum received a special visit from Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli. Archbishop Girelli is the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and the Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine. The Nuncio is the diplomatic representative of the Holy See and serves as the liaison between the Holy See and the Church in that particular nation.

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“The Emmaus Trail” Tour Guide Course

“The Emmaus Trail” Tour Guide Course

This April, Saxum Visitor Center was thrilled to be able to fulfill one of its longtime goals: to host a course for tour guides as part of the continuing education program of the Ministry of Tourism.

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Blessing of Saxum Visitor Center

Blessing of Saxum Visitor Center

On March 1, 2019, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, blessed the facilities of Saxum Visitor Center. Msgr. Mariano Fazio, the vicar general of Opus Dei, was present, in addition to many local Christians and members of religious communities.

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Saxum in the local news

Saxum in the local news

Last week our Communications Director, Gabriela, was interviewed by the Arabic-language magazine of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. This was the first ever interview in Arabic about the multimedia tour at the Saxum Visitor Center.

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