We were off earlier today to visit Mt Tabor where the transfiguration of Jesus occurred. Before we left however we visited the Terrasanta College, that has been supported by Lisa and Joe’s parish in Melbourne, to meet the children and the principal but also for Lisa and Joe to present them with a gift of $,9100 the parish had raised. Israel has cut funding to private schools from 75% down to 33% of their costs so they are struggling.
The school has excellent results and teaches from kindergarten to high school. The children were very happy to shake hands and one little boy had an Aussie flag. They welcomed us in English and then the children lead prayers. They were all dark haired and all the girls wore jeans or shorts we noticed. The school shirt was uniform. We saw some of their school work displayed in the hallways. We also had a look at the Church of St Joseph that is also at the school and is built over what was thought to be Joseph’s workshop. We were told that this playground was where Jesus had played as a child.
We returned to catch the bus, were counted as we are every morning and left Nazareth. We passed through the rich agricultural land of the Jezreel Valley. It looked like the Darling Downs or any other rich agricultural land, but is more marvellous after we have been in such arid land up to date. This area was the place of many battles because of its fertility and thus importance to the economies of various empires but also due to it being at the crossroads of trade routes.
We arrived in Canna to visit the Wedding church. This was the place where Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding. Our guide told us that it had to be holy water because it came from a stone jar. Stone keeps the water pure and is used for storing holy water.
There were two mature aged couples renewing their vows or getting married. We initially thought it was a wedding then decided it couldn’t be because it was two women. Then we realised that they were facing two men, presumably their husbands and the priest was wrapping their wrists in his stole. While we were waiting for the group to come together we noticed a door with a picture of a bride and dressing room on it. Anne poked her head in to see and was surprised to find the room full of mops and buckets for cleaning. This church was unusual because it had the Virgin Mary on the roof top and Jesus below her on the lintel.
Next stop was Mt Tabor which is very steep and we needed a shuttle to get to the top where the Franciscan Order had built a church to honour the event of the Transfiguration of Jesus. This was when the disciples saw him as the Godly person not man.
The church was beautiful with two bell towers and three chapels dedicated to Moses Jesus and Elijah. What was particularly unusual was the main part of the church had upper and lower altars dedicated to Jesus as God and Jesus as man. The church was built on the ruins of another earlier church from Crusader times.. The views over the valley were expansive so it was a good vantage point for viewing any approaching armies.
While we were waiting for the shuttles to take us up the mountain a few ladies needed to use the toilet. Often we are required to pay a shekel or dollar to use the toilets. This is a real dilemma because getting small change is so hard. Mary managed to find some shekels for the coin machine but most of us had no small change. We then started to try any coins to see if that worked but the money just bounced out. Pauline was getting desperate so she decided to climb under the barrier. Then Virginia slunk through and Anne and Julie climbed over! We were very impressed with Pauline. She is in her late 70’s, is a fairly slow walker but has determination in buckets and can be surprisingly quick! Poor Randa our tour organiser, had her hands over her face saying ‘ These Australians!’ We had tried to do the correct thing but I think the payments are to encourage you to buy something from the shop!
Eventually we returned to Nazareth. It was a fairly long drive so Kathy and I played scrabble on the IPad. She is very good and beat me both games.
Our last stop was a visit to a spice shop where we saw and smelled an enticing array of spices and herbs. I bought almonds and Anne bought pistachios. I would have liked to buy some Karcadi (?) dried Hibiscus like we had in the spa experience but I worried about getting it into Australia because it is loose, not packaged.
That evening we were invited to join the Rosary procession at the basilica. Joe, Lisa and Helen were asked to participate and lead the decade in English. There were about six languages represented and they taught us to sing the Arabic decade. Anya and Svieta were delighted to find that there was a group of Croatian pilgrims who said a decade in Croatian, their native language. Anne, Mary, Bill, Father Dean, Anya, Svieta and myself all joined the procession. Anne said she is always a sucker for candle waving. It was rather lovely but went for longer than we thought.
We proceeded through the street back into the church grounds again passing all the various Virgin Mary’s that have been donated by countries around the world.
Poor Mary was so tired her candle slipped and she started to burn her little cardboard box. She furiously blew until the flames were out. That woke her up!
On the way back to the hotel we saw the man giving/ selling date syrup in the traffic. Another big day.