Pastoral Notes 9th March 2014

A Trip to Jerusalem
Today we might feel some trepidation about a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with strife between Palestinian and Israeli authorities. It was not always so. In Roman times Christians in Jerusalem preserved the memory of the holy places in spite of wars, and as the Christian faith was accepted in the Roman Empire, many people made the long journey to the Holy Places of the Gospels. In the 7th century, with the rise of Islam, pilgrimage might become hazardous again, but pilgrims were given access to the famous sites of Jesus’ life and the Holy Sepulchre church built in the 4th century over the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus was left undisturbed. Jesus and Mary were venerated and are still in the faith of Islam. It seems the period of the Crusades made pilgrimage dangerous but St Francis of Assisi in the 12th century was given free access to the holy shrines. But since those times the devotion of the Stations of the Cross spread, and we walk just as truly with Jesus today in those prayers, on the road to Calvary and to the resurrection.