Day 9 - New Jerusalem, St. John Ba Harim, Our Lady of the Arc of the Covenant, Abu Ghosh
Our final day allowed us to spend some time in New Jerusalem, and the biggest take-away was that it really felt no different than many US cities that have a pedestrian mall area.
Our next stop was St. John Ba Harim, a Catholic church and monastery build over Byzantine and Crusaders chapels. Inside the church is a cave where, according to tradition, John the Baptist was born.
We went on to Abu Ghosh, a 6,000-year-old village that is home to The Shrine of Our Lady of the Arc of the Covenant. The Shrine of Our Lady stands at the highest point of the village in a beautiful setting. The nuns of St Joseph of the Apparition had a basilica built in honor of Mary, Ark of the Covenant. This Catholic church was built in 1924 on the ruins of the ancient Byzantine church dating from between the 4th and the 5th centuries. We celebrated our final Mass here, the highlight of which was Kate laboring through one of the hardest-to-read scripture passages ever assigned to a lector!
At the conclusion of Mass we made our way to the airport in Tel Aviv to begin our 20+-hour journey home. Exhausted and enlightened, we were return to return.