The day began with some gray clouds and sprinkles, as we drove up the mountain pass of Mount Gerizim in the West Bank, near the city of Nablus. This mountain is one of the highest in the West Bank, considered sacred by the Samaritans, now a small community of several hundred people living in Palestine.
Winding our way down the other side of the mountain, we found our way to the West Bank city of Nablus. Just east of Nablus, we paid a visit to Jacob’s Well, a site associated with the Biblical patriarch, Jacob, and the place where Christians believe a Samaritan woman offered Jesus a drink of water (John 4:13-14). The well, located within the current church of St. Photina the Samaritan, was built in 1860 by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.
We then drove through some of the ruins of ancient Samaria near the Palestinian village of Sebastia, and stopped for a delicious lunch of maqluba and other Arabic fare.
No visit to Nablus would be complete without sampling kanafeh, a dessert that is the speciality of the Palestinian city.
After enjoying our dessert, we traveled back to Jerusalem for a lecture on “Ecumenical Perspectives on the Holy Land” by Fr. Frans Bouwen, a White Father and specialist in Eastern theology, ecumenical relations and Islam in Rome and Athens. After Fr. Frans’ talk, we toured the beautiful Church of St. Anne, the traditional site of the home of Jesus’ grandparents, Anne and Joachim, and the birthplace of the Virgin Mary.
Our day ended with a final lecture by Fr. David Neuhaus, SJ, Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics at the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, on the topic of “Jewish Theology of Place and the Land.” We will meet with Fr. David again tomorrow for a continuation of this discussion on this topic from the Christian perspective.