Category Archives: Holy Land

Good Friday – Our Lady of Sorrows

Today we commemorate the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, and we should not forget the sorrows of His holy Mother. Here are some photos from Jerusalem and a chapter on the sufferings of Mary.

The Garden of Gethsemani

The Garden of Gethsemani

The Church of All Nations in Gethsemani, built at the foot of the Mount of Olives from 1919-24, is the traditional site of Our Lord’s agony in the garden the evening before His passion.

The Church of All Nations in Gethsemani, built at the foot of the Mount of Olives from 1919-24, is the traditional site of Our Lord’s agony in the garden the evening before His passion.

In honor of the most holy Savior

In honor of the most holy Savior

Where Jesus is said to have prayed and sweated blood (Church of All Nations)

Where Jesus is said to have prayed and sweated blood (Church of All Nations)

Some of the trees in the Garden of Gethsemani are said to be 2,000 years old.

Some of the trees in the Garden of Gethsemani are said to be 2,000 years old.

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On the sufferings of the Most Blessed Virgin

“The adorable Jesus being the man of sorrows, holy Mary was united with Him too much not to suffer. But her sorrows were incomparable in their greatness, in such a way, says St. Bernardine, that if the sorrow of the Blessed Virgin was divided and distributed to all creatures which can suffer, it would cause them all to die. The reason, say some theologians explaining the opinion of this Saint, is that sorrow is proportioned to the knowledge of the greatness of the evil which afflicts us, and that it increases as the light which we have of it increases. Now the Most Blessed Virgin knowing more than all the Saints the infinite dignity of her Son Who was crucified on Calvary, endured more than all the Saints, because her crucified Son was the subject of her sorrow. The material of the sufferings of St. Lawrence was his grill; that of St. Stephen, the stones with which he was stoned; that of St. Bartholomew, his own skin which was flayed: but that of Mary was Jesus suffering; it was the cross of Jesus and all His pains.

The beautiful little chapel of Dominus Flevit, built in 1891, marks the traditional site where Christ wept over Jerusalem. The original church on the site had been built during the 12th cent. but was later destroyed.

The beautiful little chapel of Dominus Flevit, built in 1891, marks the traditional site where Christ wept over Jerusalem. The original church on the site had been built during the 12th cent. but was later destroyed.

The Dominus Flevit church and Jerusalem

The Dominus Flevit church and Jerusalem

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Jerusalem seen from the inside of the Dominus Flevit church

Jerusalem seen from the inside of the Dominus Flevit church

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“But what supports more the thought of St. Bernardine is that the knowledge of the Blessed Virgin was followed by love: her love was equal to her lights: she had feelings which cannot be expressed about the greatness of Jesus crucified, Who made the subject of her pains, and she had for Him an incomparable love. As she loved more than all the rest of creatures, an Ancient writer remarks, it is indubitable that she also suffered more, sorrow, says St. Augustine, having love for its foundation. Let us add to these thoughts that Mary was a mother who suffered, and a mother of an only Son, of Whom she was a mother without a father. She was a Virgin Mother, and Mother of God. Her sorrow was not divided: she suffered alone what a good father and a tender mother can suffer. That is why St. Joseph, who was only the foster father of Jesus Christ, was no longer in the world. Her precious heart was the place in which were formed as an echo, in which were heard and felt the lashes, the insults and the mockeries with which her Son and her God was overwhelmed. And St. Bernard assures us that the soul of Jesus Christ being separated from the body, the soul of this blessed Mother was so to speak put in Its place by compassion, to feel the blow of the lance which was given to It.

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“St. Lawrence Justinian teaches that at this time of the Passion, the divine heart of the Blessed Virgin was quite similar to a glass mirror; but it was a mirror animated by Jesus dying. Nails, ropes, thorns, pains, death itself, all this appeared in this lovable heart, and all this was as in an animated mirror. She revealed to St. Bridget, that when Jesus’s body was in the grave, it was as if two bodies had been in the same sepulcher.

The Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu was built in 1931 by the Assumptionist fathers over the site where the house of the high priest Caiaphas stood and where St. Peter three times denied Christ.  Beside the church a set of stairs has been excavated which are quite possibly those walked by Christ when Caiaphas sent him back to Pilate.

The Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu was built in 1931 by the Assumptionist fathers over the site where the house of the high priest Caiaphas stood and where St. Peter three times denied Christ. Beside the church a set of stairs has been excavated which are quite possibly those walked by Christ when Caiaphas sent him back to Pilate.

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"I know Him not."

“I know Him not.”

"And Peter going out, wept bitterly."

“And Peter going out, wept bitterly.”

The field of blood where Judas threw the 30 pieces of silver

The field of blood where Judas threw the 30 pieces of silver

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The image above is the tabernacle in the church built where Jesus was scourged.

“But the sorrows of this holy Mother did not end at the time of the Passion of her dearly-beloved Son; they began with the grace of the divine maternity, and finished only with her life, that is to say, that they lasted during the space of fifty-six years, the Word having become incarnate in her pure womb, when she was only about fifteen or sixteen years old, and her precious death having taken place only in the seventy-second year of her most holy life, not to mention the other pains which she bore since the use of reason of which she had complete use from the first moment of her immaculate conception, up to the happy moment when she was made Mother of God.

“St. Bridget teaches us that she knew, by a prophetic light, all the particular details of the Passion of her only Son: that is why, while she gave Him the virginal milk of her sacred breasts, she thought of the gall and the vinegar of which some day He had to drink; when she carried Him on her breast, she considered that His delicate hands must be pierced by nails and attached to a cross. Among the chaste kisses which she gave Him, she imagined the kiss of the traitor Judas. If she saw Him sleeping, she thought of the death which had to happen to Him some day. Thus did this Mother of sorrow spend her most pure life; and in this, says St. Epiphanius, she was at the same time both Priest and the Altar on which the victim was sacrificed, not once as on the cross, but as often as she thought of this sacrifice.

"And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon His head."

“And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon His head.”

The place in which Pilate apprehended and scourged Jesus

The place in which Pilate apprehended and scourged Jesus

The church built over the place where the Apostles fell asleep

The church built over the place where the Apostles fell asleep

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“A learned man considering that Our Lord had only tasted a little of the portion of the wine mixed with myrrh which had been presented to Him: This is not without mystery, he says, it is because He wanted His holy Mother to drink the rest of this chalice. Her love, as is declared in the Canticles, is strong as death in the extreme desires that she has to suffer the pains of it. But it is deaf and merciless as hell, putting no borders to it, wishing to suffer forever, wanting her martyrdom always to last. Her sufferings, which St. Augustine calls immense, only caused her desires to suffer to increase. She is compared with much justice to a sea; because as all the drops of water of the sea cannot be counted, because the sea surpasses in the multitude of its waters all the waters of streams and rivers; likewise the sufferings of the Mother of God surpass those of all the Saints. As all rivers pass into the sea, we also find in the holy heart of our glorious Mistress all sorts of crosses. As the bottom of the sea cannot be found, it is also not possible to know the greatness of her pains. I do not believe, says the devout St. Bernard, that the sorrows of the Most Blessed Virgin can ever be either explained or known.

“But let us remember that the one who suffers thus is our sweet Mother, and that we were made her children at the foot of the Cross: that it is for us that she is a Mother of sorrow, a Mother of pity and compassion; and that this is what gives us a very strict obligation to sympathize with her, to honor her sorrows, and to keep her company in her sufferings. She once complained to St. Bridget of the few persons who loved her, because there were indeed few who had compassion on her sorrows. But in order to sympathize with them, it is necessary to think of them, and it is necessary to consider them. It is good to set some day of the week to apply oneself to it particularly, to honor her seven principal sorrows, as we noted above, to enter Confraternities set up under this title, and to visit altars dedicated to God in their honor.

Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Calvary

Calvary

The prison where Jesus was kept (Church of the Holy Sepulcher)

The prison where Jesus was kept (Church of the Holy Sepulcher)

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“As St. Bridget, about whom we have just spoken, was praying for a high-ranking man who was dying, Our Lord ordered her to send to this sick man his confessor, who having been able to gain nothing over the heart of this hardened man, at the end after several prayers was touched, confessing that he had given himself to the devil who had appeared visibly to him. And Our Lord made known that He had given him contrition for his crimes, by reason of the devotion which he had had to the sufferings of His blessed Mother. But Our Lord not only delivers from hell, He also honors with privileges those who have devotion to the pains of His holy Mother. A good religious of St. Francis having often asked the Most Blessed Virgin for purity of heart by the merit of her sorrows, this Mother of mercy appeared to him, and putting her virginal hand on his breast, says to him: Here is the purity of heart that you ask for, here your wishes are fulfilled.

“It is a sweet consolation for persons crucified to remember the crosses of holy Mary, by turning their attention away from the things which can them make suffer. We have the example, said a grave author, in the adorable Jesus, Who, having a head pierced on all sides, and a body all covered with great and deep wounds, and being about to give up the ghost in the midst of an infinity of pains, forgetting Himself, fixed His glances on His most loving Mother, and spoke to her with the care of an indescribable love.”

This chapter was taken from The Holy Slavery of the Admirable Mother of God, the book which made St. Louis-Marie de Montfort’s Marian devotion ‘go viral’.

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The ante-room to the tomb

The ante-room to the tomb

Beneath the main dome of the church is a small shrine, the Aedicule, which is built on the site of the tomb in which Christ lay following the crucifixion. Thus this site is also that of the Resurrection. The original tomb was found by St. Helena but unfortunately destroyed in 1009 by Calif Hakem, an action which resulted in the preaching of the first crusade. The present structure dates from 1810 and was built by the Greek and Russian Orthodox and consists of two small rooms. The first of these is known as the Chapel of the Angel and the second is the tomb itself. It is believed that the stone slab inside the tomb is directly above the original location of the tomb of Christ.

Beneath the main dome of the church is a small shrine, the Aedicule, which is built on the site of the tomb in which Christ lay following the crucifixion. Thus this site is also that of the Resurrection. The original tomb was found by St. Helena but unfortunately destroyed in 1009 by Calif Hakem, an action which resulted in the preaching of the first crusade. The present structure dates from 1810 and was built by the Greek and Russian Orthodox and consists of two small rooms. The first of these is known as the Chapel of the Angel and the second is the tomb itself. It is believed that the stone slab inside the tomb is directly above the original location of the tomb of Christ.

"Here is the place where they placed Him."

“Here is the place where they placed Him.”

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Calvary

Calvary

The altar of the Blessed Virgin on Calvary

The altar of the Blessed Virgin on Calvary

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The anointing stone, seen immediately upon entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is situated on the site of the stone traditionally said to be the stone upon which the body of Christ was anointed. The current stone dates from 1810 and is often covered with quantities of oils which are collected by the faithful as relics.

The anointing stone, seen immediately upon entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, is situated on the site of the stone traditionally said to be the stone upon which the body of Christ was anointed. The current stone dates from 1810 and is often covered with quantities of oils which are collected by the faithful as relics.

"His Mother stood by the Cross."

“His Mother stood by the Cross.”

Someone venerating the place where the Cross was placed

Someone venerating the place where the Cross was placed

Where the Cross was placed

Where the Cross was placed

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Solemnity of the Annunciation

Today we celebrate the Eternal Word’s becoming incarnate in the womb of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. Here are some photos from Nazareth, which will be separated by a chapter from a book I am translating: The Communion of Mary. The chapter is entitled: ‘The life of the Most Blessed Virgin was a perpetual preparation for the Incarnation and Holy Communion’. Enjoy!

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“In the counsels of eternal Wisdom, Mary having always been present in the thought and heart of God, the Lord could not destine her for a higher end than to create her to have through the Incarnation His Word made flesh for her Son, and the same Word made flesh for food through the Eucharist. God is the most perfect being. He cannot, therefore, refer Mary to an end higher and more divine than Himself. Now, through the Incarnation, Mary is united with Jesus Christ the Word of God, as a mother to her son whom she engenders and whom she feeds with her milk, and by Communion she is united with the same Jesus Christ as to His Father who feeds her with His body. The Incarnation and Communion are then the two ends to which Mary is referred. God could not, therefore, form greater intentions on Mary than to create her to engender His Son through the Incarnation as mother, and to receive Him through Communion as her food, like the faithful. In this wonderful design, His power is exhausted and His wisdom cannot go further.”

Here are some photos of the upper church.

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“Now such is the order which God keeps in all His works. He raises up to a high dignity only those whom He has worthily disposed. Having thus determined in His eternal counsels to give to Mary in time His Son, Who is His Word, to be both her son and her food, He raised her to these two divine functions only when she was worthily prepared for them. In her, I find two preparations, the one on the part of God as the principle, and the other on the part of Mary as co-worker.”

Nazareth at night

Nazareth at night

From the roof of the basilica

From the roof of the basilica

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“God who sees future things in the present, He whose knowledge plans the future, arranges in His wisdom the means to the end for which He intends things. The body of Jesus Christ being formed to be our victim on the cross and our food in the Eucharist, the heavenly Father in forming it in the womb of His mother gave it all the dispositions fitting for these two mysteries, just as He Himself affirms: O my Father, You disposed and arranged My body for the end for which You destine it.”

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“God, Who does not act at random, still less in blindness, had to hold the same conduct towards Mary. This holy Virgin, having been created to receive Jesus Christ in her womb, both as her son through the Incarnation and as her food through the Eucharist, God, in creating her body which had to be the sanctuary of His Son, had to think of these two great mysteries for which He intended it. It is in this foreshadowing that He enriches her with original justice in her immaculate conception, fills her with a plenitude of grace, and ennobles her with a virginal purity. So that She can say, as well as her divine Son: You arranged my body and my soul for divine functions; the Most-High sanctified His tabernacle. This preparation can be called remote, having begun from her Immaculate Conception.”

“From this moment, Mary herself, as a faithful co-worker in the intentions of God, cooperates in them from the very moment of her Immaculate Conception. Mary’s life was a continual preparation for these two great mysteries. In the mystery of the Incarnation principally, she produces all the lights of her spirit, all the affections of her soul, all the movements of her heart: everything in her is referred to an end so divine, to a mystery so adorable.”

In the Grotto of the Annunciation

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“But, since the Incarnation, where she became the Mother of God, communion with the body of her Son through the Eucharist being the highest end to which she can be referred, her life was a perpetual preparation for this divine action. “I am not afraid of asserting,” said one of the most learned interpreters of Sacred Scripture, “that the Blessed Virgin having been instructed by her Son about the ineffable mystery of the Eucharist, had to produce all her actions and all the practices of her virtues to prepare herself worthily for the communion which she had to make. Indeed, Mary was not going to receive Communion without light and without knowledge of what she did; but, being perfectly instructed about the dignity and the holiness of this august mystery, she prepared herself for it in a manner truly worthy of the Mother of a God and of a Sacrament so divine.”

"Here the Word became flesh."

“Here the Word became flesh.”

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Solemnity of St. Joseph

Today is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. I wish it had fallen on a Friday during Lent! Here are some photos of the Church of St. Joseph in Nazareth. Enjoy!

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Just outside the church

Just outside the church

The hallway connecting the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Church of St. Joseph

The hallway connecting the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Church of St. Joseph

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St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church

Today is the Feast of St. Jerome, the Church’s greatest Doctor of the Scriptures.  Here are some photos of his cave in Bethlehem.

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“Formerly the place of St. Jerome, priest and Doctor of the Church”

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The altar in St. Jerome’s cave

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St. Jerome was a favorite of other Doctors of the Church, including St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Robert Bellarmine.  One of his most popular quotes is: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  It is said that he is buried somewhere in the walls of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

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Our Lady of Sorrows

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.  Yesterday was the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross.  Here are some photos I took on Calvary.  You can read about devotion to Our Lady’s sorrows here.  Scroll down and you will find links to sermons of St. Lawrence of Brindisi and St. Bernardine of Siena on Our Lady’s sorrows.

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“His Mother was standing by the cross.”

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This is the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows next to the place of the crucifixion.

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A close-up of the image of Our Lady of Sorrows on Calvary.

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This altar to the right of the altar of Our Lady of Sorrows is where Jesus was nailed to the cross.

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The altar over the place of the crucifixion.

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The place of the crucifixion.

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Feast of the Birth of Mary

Today the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated.  Here are some photos from Jerusalem.  Enjoy!

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The entrance to the birthplace of the Blessed Virgin.

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The place of her holy birth.

Very near the place of her birth is the Proabtica pool.  “Now there is at Jerusalem a pond, called Probatica, which in Hebrew is named Bethsaida, having five porches” (Jn. 5:2).

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The Church of St. Anne is also nearby.  You have to pass it to get to the Probatica pond.  The acoustics in this church are amazing!

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  Here are some photos from the Holy Land.

The Madonna and Child in the sanctuary built over the cave where the Prophet Elias (considered the founder of the Carmelites) lived in Haifa.

The Madonna and Child in the sanctuary built over the cave where the Prophet Elias (considered the founder of the Carmelites) lived in Haifa.

A better view of the sanctuary built over Elias' cave.

A better view of the sanctuary built over Elias’ cave.

An inscription in the church from Pope Pius XI.

An inscription in the church from Pope Pius XI.

The inscription says in part: "The Virgin Mary herself, Queen and Mother of the Carmelites, gave the Scapular to her beloved son, St. Simon Stock."

The inscription says in part: “The Virgin Mary herself, Queen and Mother of the Carmelites, gave the Scapular to her beloved son, St. Simon Stock.”

The sanctuary above, the cave of Elias below.

The sanctuary above, the cave of Elias below.

A view from the church in Haifa.

A view from the church in Haifa.

Another view of the sea from the Carmelite church in Haifa.

Another view of the sea from the Carmelite church in Haifa.

Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel

The church atop Mount Carmel

The church atop Mount Carmel

“And Elias the prophet stood up, as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch” (Sirach 48:1).

“And Elias the prophet stood up, as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch” (Sirach 48:1).

Inscription on the statue of Elias. It reads: “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the holocaust, and the wood, and the stones” (3 Kgs. 18:38).

Inscription on the statue of Elias. It reads: “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the holocaust, and the wood, and the stones” (3 Kgs. 18:38).

“Behold, a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man’s foot” (3 Kgs. 18:44).

“Behold, a little cloud arose out of the sea like a man’s foot” (3 Kgs. 18:44).

“With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts” (3 Kgs. 19:10).

“With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts” (3 Kgs. 19:10).

The observation deck on Mount Carmel.

The observation deck on Mount Carmel.

Beyond the highway, you can see the Kishon brook. "Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Let none of them escape!” They were seized, and Elijah had them brought down to the brook Kishon and there he slit their throats” (# Kgs. 18:40).

Beyond the highway, you can see the Kishon brook. “Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Let none of them escape!” They were seized, and Elijah had them brought down to the brook Kishon and there he slit their throats” (# Kgs. 18:40).

The view from Mount Carmel.

The view from Mount Carmel.

You can see the Mount of the Transfiguration from Mount Carmel.

You can see the Mount of the Transfiguration from Mount Carmel.

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