JERUSALEM: April 14, 2008
From the Journal of a Young Pilgrim From the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America
From February 6-16, 2008, His Grace Bishop Peter led a pilgrimage consisting of a small group of worshipers to the Holy Land. Upon their arrival at their hotel, the pilgrims walked the Way of the Cross of the Savior and attended a reception at the residence of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem. They were greeted along with Greek clergymen who were visiting from the north. On the third day, the pilgrims prayed at Divine Liturgy at Gethsemane Convent of St Mary Magdalene, after which they toured the monastery, then descended the mountain to the Church of All Nations.
On Saturday, February 9, the feast day of St John Chrysostom, the group partook of the Holy Mysteries at the Tomb of the Mother of God, and on the eve of the Sunday of the Holy New Martyrs of Russia, they attended the greatest holy site in Christendom—the Sepulcher of the Lord. They spent the rest of Sunday at Wadi Fara, where one of the first great monasteries blossomed. Now, the Skete of St Chariton is being rebuilt there, with cells and chambers carved out of a cliff-side. On the feast day of the Three Hierarchs, Bishop Peter served all-night vigil at Gorny Convent, where the Mother of God spent three months at the home of St Elizabeth. The festive Liturgy was served at the Church of Queen Alexandra at the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission (MP), where Archimandrite Tikhon (Zaitsev), the Chief of the REM of the MP invited the pilgrims to a trapeza. Fr Tikhon told them about the challenges of the Mission in the Holy Land, which is in need of assistance.
On February 13, the feast day of SS Cyrus and John the Unmercenaries, Vladyka Peter served all-night vigil and Liturgy at the Ascension of the Lord Church of the Convent of the Mount of Olives. It is worth noting that on this day, exactly 150 years earlier, the Second Ecclesiastical Mission arrived after the end of the Crimean War and solidified its presence in the Holy Land.
The pilgrims visited Bethlehem the next day, where they prayed at the birth site of our Savior. On the day of the Meeting of the Lord, the pilgrims communed of the Holy Gifts for the last time in the Holy Land during Liturgy in Gethsemane, at which Bishop Peter officiated. Bidding farewell to the holy sites, the pilgrims departed, singing “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart.”