Jerusalem: Christ’s Tomb

Holy Sepulchre Basilica, perhaps Christianity’s most important shrine, was completed in 335 by St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine. An early Christian shrine had been replaced with a pagan temple in 135. After the Crusaders seized Jerusalem in 1099, they built the current church, which also includes...

One Lenten Question

Jesus said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). Here we are at the beginning of Lent, which deep down is always about abundant life. For some of us, this season immediately evokes the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” Candy, soft drinks, or movies...

Nazareth: Mary’s ‘Yes’

This month’s feast of the Annunciation will be celebrated very solemnly in Nazareth. On the site of a Judeo-Christian synagogue (third century), a Byzantine basilica (fifth century), and a Crusader church (13th century), the Franciscans built a modest church in 1730. They had acquired the Grotto of the...

Franciscans in the Holy Land

In 1217, St. Francis of Assisi sent friars to the Holy Land, ministering in areas controlled by the Crusaders. They built churches in Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem, usually on the remains of earlier Christian shrines. As the Crusaders lost territory, the friar presence decreased until Acre, the last...

‘The Fifth Gospel’

Although the New Testament includes only the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the land where Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead has sometimes been called “the fifth Gospel.” God uniquely entered human history in a definite place and at a specific time. Within 40 years after Jesus’...

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