Dear confreres, brothers and sisters in Christ, greetings from the Holy Land. As some of my confreres asked me to share something about my spiritual experience in the Holy Land, I promised to do it with pleasure. The history of our faith [our salvation] is centered in Palestine : Bethlehem for the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jerusalem for His suffering, passion, death and resurrection. As these days are special everywhere in the Christian world, there have been no particular celebrations during these times because of the Covid-19 protocols. As we are now visiting some important sites of the history of Our Mother Church, I take this opportunity to share with you something about the visit I made to the Roman-Byzantine empire settlement. It is interesting to see and hear this history today because it helps us to understand where we come from, how the Roman Temple was and how the perseverance of the Christians was in that time. It is the history of King David and Solomon who built the Temple for the Lord [see the Book of Kings]. Later the city of Jerusalem was taken by King David. It became the administrative center of the region during King Solomon’s reign. This site was then destroyed with the conquest of the northern part of the country by the Assyrian kings. What is most important in this period is the perseverance of the Christians because they were under domination of the pagans, the Jews, and the Samaritans but they continued to expand in number and in the same place. For this, a wall was erected around the city, with churches and monasteries around it, as a protection against the Crusaders. At the same place, some parts show [ruins for now but still there] the practices of the first century such as the theater built in the 1st century, the amphitheater and surroundings of the 2nd century for the Roman hippodrome used for horse and chariot races, the bathhouse containing hot and tepid bathing halls with a sophisticated heating system, the Roman Temple and many other ruins. In brief, the life of the Christians was a life of struggling. These sites are living witnesses and are well protected for Christian visits. in all Israel.
The Peace of Christ be with you!
Célestin NTAKIYIMANA, sdb
Student at Studium Theologicum Salesianum – Jerusalem Israel.