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Year of Youth 2018

Mt Carmel, Bethlehem and Old City of Jerusalem: 3 Days

The Mount of the Beatitudes is a small hill overlooking the Sea of Galilee near Tabgha. It is the traditional site of Jesus' delivery of the Sermon on the Mount, probably the most famous sermon of all time. Pilgrims have been drawn to this scenic place since at least the 4th century. The Church of the Beatitudes stands in a very similar setting to where Jesus would have stood as he delivered his famous sermon.

Pilgrims are known to have commemorated the Sermon on the Mount in this region for centuries. After describing the Church of the Loaves and Fishes, the Spanish pilgrim Egeria (c.381) wrote, "Near there on a mountain is the cave to which the Saviour climbed and spoke the Beatitudes." Ruins of a small church dated to the late 4th century have been discovered downhill from the present church. It has a rock-cut cistern beneath it and the remains of a little monastery to its south and southeast. Part of the mosaic floor was recovered and is now on display in Capernaum. The present church was built in 1938.

Keren-Carmel (horn of Carmel) is a hill (474M) on the south-eastern side of mount Carmel. On the hill, covered with bush, is a small Carmelite order church which commemorates the victory of prophet Elijah over the Baal prophets. In the front yard of the church is a remarkable statue of the Prophet Elijah slaughtering a Baal prophet, and on its terrace is a beautiful panorama.

Caesarea (also known as Caesarea Palaestina and Caesarea Maritima) is an ancient city, now archaeological park, located on the Mediterranean Sea, which figures prominently in the religious history of the area. Herod built a great Roman temple here dedicated to the Divine Augustus. Half a century later, Peter and Paul visited the city (as recorded in the New Testament book of Acts). And towards the end of the 1st century, mistreatment of Jews in Caesarea led to the First Jewish Revolt (66-70 AD). In the 3rd and 4th centuries, Caesarea became a major centre of both Jewish and Christian scholarship, with several rabbinical schools and a great library founded by Origen of Alexandria. Eusebius, the first church historian, was bishop of Caesarea (315-30). In the early Middle Ages, the city traded hands between Muslims and Crusaders several times; much of what remains dates from the Crusader era.

Ein Karem. In Luke 1, the pregnant Mary visited her pregnant cousin Elizabeth and stayed for three months (Lk. 1:56). Upon Mary's arrival, the unborn John the Baptist recognized the unborn Jesus and "leaped with joy" in Elizabeth's womb (Lk. 1:44).

The present Church of the Visitation incorporates a natural grotto that once contained a small spring. The grotto became a place of worship in the Byzantine period, and the Crusaders built a large, two-storey church over it. The church collapsed after the Crusaders left. In 1679, the site was bought by the Franciscans. After two centuries, they finally managed to get permission from the Ottoman authorities to restore the church. The Lower Church was restored in 1862 and the Upper Church was completed in 1955.

Bethlehem. Perched on a hill at the edge of the Judean desert just 5 miles south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem is the childhood home of the biblical King David. It is also the birthplace of Jesus and has been a major site of Christian pilgrimage since the construction of the Church of the Nativity in the 4th century AD. The town has been a monastic centre for almost as long. In the 5th century AD, St. Jerome built a monastery here and with the aid of local rabbis translated the Old Testament into Latin from the original Hebrew for the Vulgate, a Latin translation of the Bible. Bethlehem flourished until Crusader times, but the following centuries witnessed a great reduction in population, reversed only after the 1948 war with the arrival of thousands of Palestinian refugees.

The Basilica of the Agony, also known as the Church of All Nations, is located at the foot of the Mount of Olives next to the Garden of Gethsemane. The Catholic church enshrines a section of stone in the Garden of Gethsemane that is believed to be where Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest (Mt. 26:36).

Old City of Jerusalem holds the site of the Last Supper – although it's exact location is not known and the Gospel accounts provide few clues. It cannot be the present room, which was built in the 12th century. However, it is possible it stands over or near the original site of the Last Supper and/or Pentecost. Beneath the floor of the building are Byzantine and Roman pavements and the foundations go back to at least the 2nd century AD.

It was rebuilt in the 4th century, when the persecutions ended and became known as "the Upper Church of the Apostles." This designation referred, however, not to the Last Supper but to the apostles' receiving of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, which also occurred in an "upper room" (Acts 1:13, 2:1).

In the 5th century the church was referred to as "Zion, Mother of all the Churches," and it was around this time that it was identified with the site of the Last Supper. This seems to have been based on a natural conclusion that since both Pentecost and the Last Supper occurred in an upper room, the two events happened in the same room.

The Abbey of the Dormition in Jerusalem is a German Benedictine church completed in 1910. It was built on land given by the Turkish sultan to the German Kaiser Wilhelm II and commemorates the "falling asleep" (dormitio) of the Virgin Mary.
The lower-level crypt is the traditional site of Mary's home. A circular pillared hall with ambulatories, it centres on the Chapel of the Dormition with a carved-stone figure of Mary in repose. Above, a mosaic in the dome depicts Christ receiving her soul.

The most famous Islamic site in Jerusalem is the Dome of the Rock. It is not a mosque, but a Muslim shrine. Like the Ka'ba in Mecca, it is built over a sacred stone. This stone is believed to be the place from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven during his Night Journey. According to Jewish tradition, the rock was the center of Holy of Holiest, the centre point of God's dwelling and the creation of the world.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands on a site that is believed to encompass Golgotha, or Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and the tomb (sepulchre) where he was buried. The Church was established in 333 by the Roman emperor Constantine, after his mother, Queen Helena, marked the place of Golgotha during her visit in 326AD. The site was selected based on memories of the site as an execution place, and on the existence of a garden, tombs and fragments of wood planks.

The church is controlled by different Christian denominations within the church, each having a part of it: Catholics, Armenian, Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic and Ethiopian. The Muslim families have the key to the main door since 1187.