Rest and the Transfiguration

Ross Fairweather

Monday, July 13, 2015

Today’s focus was on the story of the Transfiguration. We had a free morning, so after breakfast, each one of us could do whatever we wanted. I chose to write my blog in the morning, then read and study with the remaining time. We had a lovely salad and pastries filled with either potato or cheese for lunch at the Pilgerhaus before heading southwest to next destination.

Rising up from the Jezreel Valley, Mount Tabor is a 3,000’ mountain with a steep incline but a very flat top surface. This is the site where Benedictines built a church commemorating the story of the Transfiguration in the 4th century CE. At some point it went into ruins, but the Franciscans built a new art-deco church on the site in the 1920s.  Like many of the Franciscan churches in the Holy Land this was design by renowned Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi. This is what we toured today. The modern church sits among the ancient ruins, connected by gardens meticulously maintained by the Franciscan monks.

A Greek Orthodox monastery on Mount Tabor next to the Franciscan church and monastery.

A Greek Orthodox monastery on Mount Tabor next to the Franciscan church and monastery.

The front gate to the Franciscan Church of the Transfiguraiton

The front gate to the Franciscan Church of the Transfiguration

The Church of the Transfiguration.

The Church of the Transfiguration.

The monastery and guesthouse.

The monastery and guesthouse.

As with any Franciscan church in the Holy Land here is the obligatory statue of St. Francis...each one is different, so it has been cool to see the different styles.

As with any Franciscan church in the Holy Land here is the obligatory statue of St. Francis…each one is different, so it has been cool to see the different styles.

The group approaching the church.

The group approaching the church.

A bust of a Pope who made a pilgrimage here in the 1960's.

A bust of a Pope who made a pilgrimage here in the 1960’s.

Ruins from the Benedictine monastic cells and buildings.

Ruins from the Benedictine monastic cells and buildings.

A plaque acknowledging Italian architect Antonio Berluzzi.

A plaque acknowledging Italian architect Antonio Berluzzi.

The archway entrance to the church.

The archway entrance to the church.

The story of the transifguration etched into the stone above the entrance.

The story of the transfiguration etched into the stone above the entrance.

A cross on the door to the church.

A cross on the door to the church.

A giant mural of the Transfiguration above the high altar in the sanctuary.

A giant mural of the Transfiguration above the high altar in the sanctuary.

The wooden beams of the ceiling.

The wooden beams of the ceiling.

The decorated dome of the church.

The decorated dome of the church.

The Chapel of Moses.

The Chapel of Moses.

The mural in the Chapel of Moses

The mural in the Chapel of Moses

The altar int he Chapel of Moses.

The altar int he Chapel of Moses.

The Chapel Cross in the Chapel of Moses.

The Chapel Cross in the Chapel of Moses.

The Chapel of Elijah.

The Chapel of Elijah.

The large mural of the prophet Elijah in the Chapel of Elijah.

The large mural of the prophet Elijah in the Chapel of Elijah.

The altar in the Chapel of Elijah.

The altar in the Chapel of Elijah.

The base of the chapel cross in the Chapel of Elijah.

The base of the chapel cross in the Chapel of Elijah.

4th Century Byzantine mosaic floor.

4th Century Byzantine mosaic floor.

The Chapel of Mary off to the side of the main sanctuary.

The Chapel of Mary off to the side of the main sanctuary.

The lower altar underneath the high altar.

The lower altar underneath the high altar.

A closer look at the lower altar underneath the high altar in the sanctuary.

A closer look at the lower altar underneath the high altar in the sanctuary.

The mural on the left side of the lower altar depicting scenes of Jesus' life.

The mural on the left side of the lower altar depicting scenes of Jesus’ life.

The mural on the right side of the lower altar depicting scenes of Jesus' life.

The mural on the right side of the lower altar depicting scenes of Jesus’ life.

A view out over the Jezreel Valley from the ramparts of the church.

A view out over the Jezreel Valley from the ramparts of the church.

Another view out towards the Jezreel Valley.

Another view out towards the Jezreel Valley.

A sign indicating the spearation barrier and potential inspection...we cross through the separation barrier each time we enter and leave the West Bank.

A sign indicating the separation barrier and potential inspection…we cross through the separation barrier each time we enter and leave the West Bank.

One of many warning signs when entering Palestinian cities/villages that warns

One of many warning signs when entering Palestinian cities/villages that warns “This road leads to Palestinian village, the entrance for Israeli citizens is dangerous.” It is also technically illegal for Israeli citizens to enter Palestinian governed cities and villages in the West Bank…there are areas in the West Bank run by the Israeli Defense Force and Palestinians have no autonomy and self-governance there.

There is some of speculation about whether the Transfiguration occurred on Mount Tabor (3,000’ elevation) or Mount Hermon (9,000’). Christians have held on to the tradition that it occurred on Mount Tabor. But, as Biblical scholar and author Peter Walker wrote “… ultimately the event may be the more important than the exact place, that theological truth may be more important than geographical exactitude.”

After absorbing the serenity and meaning of Mount Tabor and the Transfiguration, the bus took us back to Jerusalem, a 2 ½ hour drive back through Jordan River Valley from whence we came three days earlier. It was a short itinerary day, but one that was very hot and hence fatiguing. We returned to St. George’s College and went back to our respective rooms which had been cleaned and serviced in our absence.

Chef Joseph prepared another yummy meal, this time chicken and vegetables in a cream sauce over basmati rice, assorted veggies, and fruit and nut pastry for dessert. Tomorrow’s agenda has a lot of walking in Jerusalem, so it’s time to rest up.

As for me, I’m happy my daily blog is done (while it’s fresh in my mind). Until tomorrow ….

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