On Thursday 31st we went to visit four interesting places. We shared this excursion with a group of priest and nuns that are studying for some months here in Jerusalem.
Mount Gerizim is a nature park that belongs Judea and Samaria civil administration. The name of the mount Gerizim occurs in the Torah from the beginnings of the Israelite experience in the Land of Canaan. The children of Israel are commanded to conduct the ceremony of blessing upon Mount Gerizim after entering the Land of Israel.
Nowadays the Samaritan Community still lives there since 722 BCE because they believe in the sanctity of Mount Gerizim, where God commanded the construction of his Holy temple; they also believe that this is the place where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac.
The view of the Mount is beautiful we could see green areas, flowers and the villages that are near it.
The Byzantine Church
This place contains the remains of a Hellenistic city of a Byzantine Church. In this place one of the priest, the person who organized the excursion, led and explained to us all the information of this historical place.
According to the history in 484 CE the Byzantine ruler confiscated the precinct from the Samaritans and constructed a fortified monastery and church, in honor of Mary “Mother of God” (Theotokos).
After we saw the church we went back to the town and visited the place where the Samaritan community get together to pray and offer their sacrifices to God. Then near to here there is museum where we had the wonderful opportunity to receive a complete explanation of Samaritan community, faith, traditions and their costumes. Beside we could appreciate the beauty of the arts pieces that they have in the museum.
We finished our visit taking some pictures and talking with the man who was giving to us the explanation of his Samaritan community.
We continued our journey visiting the well of Jacob. We were very excited to see this place, the place where Jesus had his encounter with the Samaritan woman.
We arrived to Greek Orthodox Convent around 11 o’clock and we stayed there for an hour. The church is very big and very attractive for visitors. In Jacob’s well we took our time to read the Gospel of John about the Samaritan women. Then we took water from the well and drank it. This was a very deep experience because we were sitting around the well remembering the moment when Jesus was waiting for the Samaritan woman.
To finish this moment in Jacob’s well the orthodox priest who was there in the church gave us his blessing. After it we had time to walk around the church, take pictures or pray.
Sebastiya in Samaria
This was the last place that we were. Sebastiya is a small Palestinian village with a charming old town consisting predominantly of Mamluk and Ottoman style architecture.
Before we started the walk we had our lunch in a nice restaurant. We ate Palestinian food; a delicious soup, many different kind of salads and a special bread that they used to eat.
After that we went for a walk to see the remains of a Roman Basilica. In this place we had mass to pray for peace around the world and especially for peace in Israel and Palestine.
Finally we went to the center of the village of Sebastiya to visit the Crusader Cathedral of John the Baptist-Mosque of Yahia.
We give thanks to the Lord for this nice pilgrimage. We really learned a lot about the history and the people of Samaria.
Nancy Mena Fernandez NDS, Novice
Congregational Novitiate Ein Karem, Jerusalem