The Holy Land: Did You Know?
THE WAY OF THE CROSS. Only in the Holy Land can you celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection in the place where it happened. The fourth-century pilgrim Egeria described the Holy Week services in Jerusalem: "What I admire and value most is that all the hymns and antiphons and readings, and all the prayers that the bishops say, are always relevant to the day which is being observed and to the place in which they are used." Today, much like in Egeria's era, thousands of Christians observe Good Friday by following the "Via Dolorosa"—the traditional route Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion—from the Mount of Olives to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The route and rituals have changed over the centuries, but the devotion has not. Jerusalem Christians' celebration of Easter influenced Christian worship around the world. The practice of following the "stations of the cross" is one example.
HERITAGE IN COLORED STONE. One of the most lasting and beautiful legacies we have of early Christian communities in Palestine and the surrounding region are mosaic floors. This cross is in a very early church in Mamshit, a city of the Nabateans, an ancient kingdom of traders in the Negev desert who converted to Christianity in the fourth century.
OUR LAND. The first Christian writer to mention the term "holy land" was Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho (c. 160). Justin was trying to show that the land God promised to Abraham would be inherited by Christians when Christ returned and built a new Jerusalem. But according to Robert Louis Wilken, it was the monks living in the Judean desert who claimed this concept as a present, Christian reality. Sixth-century monastic leaders Theodosius and Sabas wrote to the Byzantine emperor calling ...