The first-ever group of Christian pilgrims from Black Africa to visit the Holy Land toured religious sites there last week.
The first-ever group of Christian pilgrims from Black Africa to visit the Holy Land toured religious sites there last week. Though African individuals had previously made pilgrimages, this was the first organised group venture. Taking part were 68 men, women and children from Senegal, among them a deaf child and a wheelchair-bond woman.
The visit began with a tour of the Galilean Holy Places: Nazareth, Capernaum, Taboha and Mount Tabor. The group then proceeded to Jerusalem, where, on their way to the Holy Sepulchre, they carried a cross along the Via Dolorosa. In nearby Bethlehem, they visited the Church of the Nativity. Here, the pilgrims prostrated themselves to kiss the silver star beneath the altar, which according to tradition marks the exact spot of the birth of Christ.
Mass was read at every holy site they visited.
SYNOPSIS: A distant view of Jerusalem -- as seen last week by the first-ever Black African group of Christian pilgrims to visit the Holy Land. Sixty-eight men, women and children from Senegal, joined in an organised excursion to the Land of the Bible.
Their guide throughout the tour was a father from the Abu Ghosh monastery, near Jerusalem. First, he showed them the holy places of Galilee, including the town of Nazareth, where Jesus lived for most of his life. Then, they proceeded to Jerusalem and nearby Bethlehem, Christ's birthplace.
This star, beneath the altar in the Church of the Nativity, is recognised by tradition as marking the exact spot of Jesus' birth.
The pilgrims from Senegal spent a long while in prayer inside the Church's grotto, where the Manger was situated. As at every holy place they visited, the group read Mass at the Church of the Nativity. Before leaving, they knelt to kiss the silver star.
Later, on returning to Jerusalem, the pilgrims carried a wooden cross along the stations of the Via Dolorosa, to the Church of the Holy sepulchre.