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Ein Karem: the birthplace of St. John the Baptist

"There are two churches of St John the Baptist in the town. Best-known is the Catholic Church of the Nativity of St John, identifiable by its tall tower topped by a round spire. It is also called “St John in the mountains”, a reference to the “hill country” of the Scripture.

"The church combines remnants of many periods. An early church on this site was used by Muslim villagers for their livestock before the Franciscans recovered it in the 17th century. The Franciscans built the present church with the help of the Spanish monarchy. The high altar is dedicated to St John. To the right is Elizabeth’s altar. To the left are steps leading down to a natural grotto — identified as John’s birthplace and believed to be part of his parents’ home.

"A chapel beneath the porch contains two tombs. An inscription in a mosaic panel reads, in Greek, “Hail martyrs of God”. Whom it refers to is unknown.

"The other church, built in 1894, is Eastern Orthodox."

Quote from this link.

Approaching the Church of Saint John the Baptist

The main altar of the church

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~Meister Eckhart

I hope you find many reasons to be thankful today!


Cana is a small town in Galilee where Jesus performed his first public miracles, recorded in the Gospel of John 2:1-11. Jesus was attending a wedding feast with his mother and his disciples when the hosts ran out of wine. At his mother's urging, Jesus changed water in jars used for ceremonial washing into wine. Today there is a small church known as the Franciscan Wedding Chapel where this miracle is said to have taken place.
The Franciscan Wedding Chapel

The altar of the church

Couples in our group were able to renew their wedding vows in this lovely church.

Beneath the church is a jar believed to be one of the six mentioned in John's Gospel.

Would you care to purchase some Cana wedding wine? Several shops near the church will gladly sell you some!

Haifa, Israel

In Israel, I saw people from all over the world and heard people speaking what seemed like every language under the sun.
Israel attracts people from all over the globe, as this sign seems to indicate!

I knew that Israel was an important center of three of the world's major religions, but was unaware of its significance to the Bahá’í Faith.
The temple pictured here is an important spiritual center of the Bahai faith.
According to Wikipedia, "the World Centre is the holiest site of pilgrimage for the members of the Bahá'í faith, 
as well as the faith's central administrative center".
All along the hill leading to the temple are beautiful gardens.

In Haifa, Israel's third largest city, we saw our first evidence of respectful coexistence between people of different faiths. We arrived in Israel just hours before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, began at sunset.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for Jews. Beginning at sundown, observant Jews in Israel fast completely until the sun sets the following day. They will not drive or perform any sort of work. Even the airport and other forms of public transportation shut down in Israel, as did the television stations. Muslims and Christians respect the holiness of this day and do not drive or conduct business in the Jewish quarters. Once the sun set and Yom Kippur began, we were virtually the only vehicle on the road.

I was struck for the first time by how much we've lost the sense of holiness in our country.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy - Ex. 20:8

A dream of a lifetime

I've always dreamed of going to Israel, but to actually have that dream come true is something I'll always remember. Over the next few weeks, I'll share some of the things we saw there.

The Sea of Galilee, viewed from the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus is said to have taught the Beatitudes to his disciples. Matthew 5:1-12

The Church of the Beatitudes, a small but lovely church.

Looking at the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes

A Franciscan nun discourages her faithful canine companions from entering the Church of the Beatitudes.

Moonrise over the Church of the Beatitudes