Solemn Processional – Bethlehem

Instead of heading back to our hotel we decided to see if we could enter the churches at around 1.30am. We wandered into St. Catherine’s Church (1, 3) (where the mass had been held) but it was empty as the religious heads left to pray at the Basilica of Nativity. As we were about to leave, the Catholic Processional marched back into St. Catherine’s. All the priests, bishops, and cardinals that could usually only be seen on TV, were walking a couple of feet away from us. The first wave (4-10) started with the cross (4, 5) and the second with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem (also the Latin Rite Catholic Archbishop of Jerusalem) Fouad Twal (12, 15). After saying a few words the few people that were in the church lined up before the Patriarch, were blessed by him, and shook his hand. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, we did the same – and we were lucky that we did. I was one of the last people to shake his hand before being hurried out by security. It’s still not clear to me why the heads of the church returned to St. Catherine’s or if their processional was supposed to be private and only viewed by certain people (most of the other people in the church at the time were wearing suits). But we left smiling at our luck and at one of the highlights of our Christmas.

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~ by jonathanmtsai on December 28, 2010.

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