Belle parishioners return from memorable pilgrimage to the Holy Land

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By Fr. Joswey Fernandes, Frederick D’Souza and Robert D’Souza
Bellevision Media Network

Moodubelle, 22 November 2010: Seventeen parishioners of St. Lawrence Church, Belle along with their parish priest, Fr. Joswey Fernandes and two other priests-Fr. Gilbert Pinto, Rector of the Minor Seminary, Chikmagalore  and Fr. Nelson D’Almeida, Professor in St. Joseph’s Seminary, Mangalore  who had gone on  ten days pilgrimage to the Holy Land on 9 November 2010 returned on 19 November 2010. They were joined by fourteen other members from other places making a total of 34 pilgrims in the group. The pilgrimage was organized as part of the centenary of the foundation of St. Lawrence parish, Belle. The pilgrims from Belle returned at around 1 pm on Friday, 19 November 2010. Though tired a little, these pilgrims were in high spirit having visited most of the places in the Holy Land associated with the Old and New Testament. They were found  narrating their experience and a sense of fulfilment of visiting the Holy Land with whomsoever they met in excitement and animated conversation.


The pilgrims had left Belle on the ten days pilgrimage on Tuesday, 9 November 2010 at around 11 am. In a bus which took them to the Mangalore airport from where they flew to Mumbai where they rested. On Wednesday, 10 November 2010 early morning they took a plane to Kuwait from where they took a connecting flight to Cairo in Egypt . After checking in a hotel and freshening up, they went for a cruise on river Nile where they enjoyed shows on board after which they returned to their hotel for overnight rest.


On Thursday, 11 November 2010, the group proceeded to view the pyramids including Sphinx and the old churches of Cairo and also visited the museum in Cairo. Later in the day they crossed the Suez Canal and saw the biblical Sinai Mountains. On fourth day, Friday, 12 November 2010 the pilgrims visited St. Catherine’s Monastery set beneath the mountain where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments. Nearby is the place where the famous ‘Burning Bush’  is supposed to have been located. From the base of Sinai, the pilgrims entered Israel  completing the emigration and customs formalities. Then they proceeded to Jerusalem and stayed overnight in a hotel.


In Jerusalem, on the fifth day-Saturday, 13 November 2010, the group proceeded to Mount Olives for a panoramic view of Jerusalem which was quite beautiful. Visited Pater Noster Ascension, walked along the Palm Sunday Road down to the chapel built over the place where Jesus wept over the imminent destruction of Jerusalem. From this place the pilgrims went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus was betrayed by Judas. Thereafter, they visited the Basilica of Agony and tomb of St. Mary, Church of St. Peter of Gallicantu symbolizing Peter’s denial of Jesus, house of High Priest Caiphas where Jesus was imprisoned. From here the pilgrims proceeded to Bethlehem to visit Shepherd’s Field  and then the famous Church of Nativity built on the place where Jesus was born and finally to the Milk Grotto before having dinner and retiring for the long day during which many important places were visited.


The sixth day of the pilgrimage on Sunday 14 November 2010 was much more hectic that the previous day. After breakfast, the pilgrims proceeded to the pools of Bethsaida where Jesus healed the crippled man. From there they walked on the Via Dolorosa, Way of the Cross following Fourteen Stations to the Cross to Golgotha the place where Jesus was crucified. They also saw the Judgement Hall of Pontius Pilate and the Chapel of Flagellation where Jesus was scourged by the Roman soldiers. The last five Stations of the Cross are  inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre visible from a distance with two silver domes. Thereafter, the group visited the Last Supper Room, the Tomb of King David and the Jewish quarter of the Wailing Wall, birth place of John the Baptist and the Church of Visitation. From there, the pilgrims went to Jericho  from where they had a view of the Mount of Temptation and Sycamore tree where Jesus stopped on his way to Jerusalem on the eve of the Passover. Dead sea was the next stop on the journey of the pilgrims from where they proceeded to Bethania, the town of Mary, Martha and Lazarus where they visited the Tomb of Lazarus. This was the last visit of the day.




On Monday, 15 November 2010, seventh day of the pilgrimage, the pilgrims proceeded to Joppa (Tel Aviv) and visited the Church of St. Peter. Proceeding from Caesarea to Haifa, the largest ports of Israel, the pilgrims could see the vast expanse of the Mediterranean Sea. Thereafter, the group  visited the world famous Persian hanging Gardens and the Bahai Shrine. After lunch, the pilgrims proceeded to Nazareth, the boyhood town of Jesus and home of Joseph and Mary and visited the Basilica of Annunciation built at the place where Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would bear a son, Jesus. They also saw the workshop of Joseph. Thereafter, the pilgrims visited Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine. Here, Fr. Joswey along with other priests offered Mass  and the couple pilgrims exchanged their marriage vows.


The eighth day of the pilgrimage was Tuesday, 16 November 2010 and the pilgrims visited first the Mount Tabor, Capernaum and Tabgha, the Church of the Multiplication of five loaves and two fishes as well as the Church of the Beatitudes where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.  Thereafter, they proceeded to the Sea of Galilee where Jesus calmed the sea and walked on the water. Then the pilgrims stopped at St. Peter’s House and the Church of Primacy of Peter and the place where Jesus bestowed St. Peter with authority. Later, the pilgrims visited Yardenit on the Jordan River the traditional Baptismal site where Jesus was baptised by St. John the Baptist.


On Wednesday, 17 November 2010, the ninth day of the pilgrimage, the group proceeded to Sheikh Hussain Bridge to exit from Israel and entered Jordan after completing the customs and immigration formalities. After lunch, they proceeded to Mount Nebo. The trip south of Amman, the capital of Jordan through the ancient High Way was quite memorable passing through the memorial of Moses, the presumed site of his death and tomb. From this place one can have a breathtaking view across the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea. Finally, the pilgrims proceed to Madaba where they saw the Church of St. George and some wonderful works on marble.


On the tenth day of the pilgrimage on Thursday, 18 November 2010, the pilgrims, after a successful and exhilarating once in  a life time pilgrimage proceeded to the Amman Airport and took a flight to Kuwait  and arrived at Kuwait Airport at 5.35 pm from where they took another flight coming to Mumbai in the night at 10.45 pm. Reaching Mumbai early morning of Friday, 19 November 2010 at 4.50 am, boarded the plane to Mangalore which lifted off at 9.20 am and reached the Mangalore Airport at 10.40 am and there on reached Belle by special bus at around  1 pm.

According to all the pilgrims, the journey to and back from the Holy Land as well as the visits to various biblical places has been quite memorable one. Fortunately, no one fell sick in spite some members in the group being quite old and on treatment for various ailments. It was the determination, will power, and the excitement of seeing the places associated with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that kept them going. It seems that each of the pilgrims have returned from the Holy Land with new spirit and holiness during the centenary year of the foundation of the parish of Belle.


(Report Compiled by Dr. Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle)




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loy, karkala Mon, December-6-2010, 11:57
i love isreal
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