Forty six parishioners and friends of Corpus Christi Church and Our Lady of Lourdes are enjoying the opening days of their pilgimage to the Holy Land. The are staying in Bethlehem near Manger Square, the birthplace of Jesus, but spent their first day in Jerusalem, the centre of the Christian World. Under the expert guidance of Fr Mervyn, the parishioners spent the day in and around the Holy Sepulchre, the site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Our Lord.
The Church is built over site of the tomb where Jesus was laid and pilgrims were able to enter the tomb and pray at the place of the resurrection. They were then able to visit the site of the crucifixion, Golgotha, where a shrine has been built over the top of the rock which tradition says was the place where the cross was mounted in the stone – see photograph left.
Following the stone steps down from Golgotha, parishioners stopped to venerate the stone which tradition says was the place upon which Jesus's body was anointed before being placed in the tomb – photograph right below – before a celebration of Mass in the Crusaders' Chapel.
The pilgrimage continued with a visit to the Western Wall, the most Holy and central place for the Jewish Religion (photograph below). Men and women are segregated and pilgrims saw a stream of worshippers praying at the wall, reading from the Torah, with great devotion. In turn, the pilgrims prayed for their own intentions and for a greater understanding between the great religions.
After lunch in the Austrian Hospice, the group was able to see the Jerusalem skyline from the terrace at the top of the high building, and Fr Mervyn pointed out the four quarters of the City, giving the history of Jerusalem through the Biblical Ages (photograph at top).
Following a prayerful visit to the pool at Sheep Gate (Bethesda) and the Church of St Anne, the mother of Our Lady, where Mary was born, the pilgrims followed the Way of the Cross, beginning at Lithostrotos (Gabbatha), where Jesus was sentenced by Pilate, before following the fourteen traditional stations of the Cross through the rugged, bustling and untidy streets of Jerusalem, just as Jesus would have walked. At the seventh station, photograph right, the pilgrims prayed with passers-by walking through the middle of the group, a reminder of the reality of Jesus's final walk through an unaccommodating crowd. Back at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the pilgrims completed the journey with a fifteenth station, celebrating that Jesus is Risen.