Yesterday morning we boarded our bus, joined by Fr. Peter Dubrul, SJ, who we met earlier during our trip, and headed north to the Galilee region of Israel. As we drove, the scenery changed dramatically, shifting from desert to areas of evergreen trees and lush, green fields.
Our first stop was Mount Tabor in Lower Galilee, which many Christians believe to be the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus. On the mountain stands the Church of the Transfiguration, a Franciscan basilica, offering serene spaces for contemplation and gorgeous views of the valleys below.
The Church of the Transfiguration
Students in front of the Church of the Transfiguration
Our next stop was Nazareth, which the New Testament describes as the childhood home of Jesus. After a lunch of shawarma and falafel, we made our way to the Church of the Annunciation, which Roman Catholics hold to be the site of the Annunciation, or the announcement of the Incarnation by the angel Gabriel to Mary.
After a few afternoon showers, we proceeded to Cana, where Christians believe Jesus performed the first of his “signs.” This miracle involved Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding festival, when the bridegroom ran out of wine to serve his guests.
After our visit to Cana, we headed to Tiberias, an Israeli city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, named after the Emperor Tiberius. That evening, Fr. Peter gave us a lecture on “Jesus in the Galilee.”
Our next day in the Galilee began on the Mount of Beatitudes, on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, which Christians commemorate as the potential site where Jesus delivered his “Sermon on the Mount.”
In front of the chapel on the Mount of the Beatitudes
Our next destination was Tabgha, traditionally accepted as the site of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and the fishes, as well as the site of the fourth resurrection appearance of Jesus.
A group photo in the courtyard of the Church of the Loaves and Fishes
A Bible reading outside of the Church of the Primacy of Peter, Tabgha
The Church of the Primacy of Peter, Tabgha
Departing from Tabgha, we traveled to Capernaum, which was historically a fishing village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, and the center of Jesus’ ministry after leaving his hometown of Nazareth.
The ancient synagogue at Capernaum, in which Christians believe Jesus gave sermons.
Fr. Peter leading students in a Bible reading in the ancient synagogue.
Fr. Peter leading students in a reading of the Gospels in the Synagogue at Capernaum.
Our final stop in our journey to the Galilee was Magdala, a small fishing village active during the life of Jesus, believed to be the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. Recent archaeological discoveries have revealed an ancient synagogue from the time of Jesus, as well as an entire ancient town, including Jewish purification baths. After viewing these discoveries, we also toured the site’s spirituality center, completed in 2014, called Duc in Altum, which means “go into the deep,” a reference from the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus asks the Apostle Peter to take his boat out “into the deep” for a catch (Lk 5:4)
Students listening to a talk about recent archaeological discoveries in Magdala.
Viewing the ancient synagogue in Magdala.
Viewing the ancient ritual baths.
The Boat Chapel in Duc In Altum, with the Sea of Galilee in the background.
The Mary Magdalene Chapel in Duc in Altum.
After a very exciting two days in the Galilee, we boarded the bus for our temporary home in Bethlehem, looking forward to our adventures to come.