I recently returned home from an eight day pilgrimage to the Holy Land that can only be described as a trip of a lifetime. I saw so much and experienced so that created memories that will last forever of a once in a lifetime experience. I will be writing a number of blogs about the pilgrimage once I have uploaded the hundreds upon hundreds of photos I took to my computer!
The majority of our time was spent in the city of Jerusalem. The Old City of Jerusalem is a holy place for the Jewish people. Although pilgrimage is not compulsory Jews still think it is important to visit as it has huge significance to their heritage and beliefs. But Jerusalem is not a holy place solely for Jewish people. There are four quarters in Jerusalem ; The Jewish Quarter, The Muslim Quarter, The Christian Quarter and The Armenian Quarter.
The Jewish connection to Jerusalem goes all the way back to Abraham the father of Judaism. In the Bible, God tested Abrahams faith and told him to take his son to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him. It was here that Abraham proved his faith in God so it is believed that this place symbolises the unique relationship the Jewish people have with God. Another sacred place for Jewish people is the western wall. The wall is the only remains of the second temple which was destroyed in 70AD. The temple is the symbol of Jewish identity, therefore Jews feel very close to God when they are near it.
Jerusalem is important to Muslims for many reasons. Firstly the prophets of Judaism and Christianity (such as Abraham and Jesus) are also prophets of Islam, so Muslims also have an interest in visiting the sacred sites where Jesus ascended and Abraham had his faith tested. It is also believed that Muhammad the most important prophet of Islam, visited Jerusalem during his ‘night journey’. This was when Muhammad was visited by the Angel Gabriel in Mecca and was miraculously taken to Jerusalem and then to heaven, where he met the other prophets.
Jerusalem is the place where Jesus spent his last days. The most important religious site for the Christians is The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is a church that is built on what is believed to be the site of Jesus’ tomb where he rose from the dead. The Chapel of Ascension is also an important site, it is built on the spot where Jesus ascended into heaven, his footprint is imprinted on the floor! There are many other churches in Jerusalem that mark places where Jesus and Mary visited, Bethlehem Is also close by and Christians like to visit there as it is the birthplace of Christ.
Armenia was the first country to officially adopt Christianity as its religion and they began to settle in Jerusalem in order to be close to St James’ Cathedral. This Cathedral is believed to be built on the site where the last supper was held. Today there are 1,000 Armenians living in the Armenian Quarter!
Muslim, Jewish, Christian Prayer for Peace
“O God, you are the source of life and peace. Praised be your name forever. We know it is you who turn our minds to thoughts of peace. Hear our prayer in this time of war.
“Your power changes hearts. Muslims, Christians, and Jews remember, and profoundly affirm, that they are followers of the one God, children of Abraham, brother and sisters. Enemies begin to speak to one another; those who were estranged join hands in friendship. Nations seek the way of peace together.
“Strengthen our resolve to give witness to these truths by the way we live. Give to us: understanding that puts an end to strife; mercy that quenches hatred, and forgiveness that overcomes vengeance. Empower all people to live in your law of love.”