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Making All Things New in an Ancient Land

11 May, 200911 May, 2009 0 comments Pope Benedict XVI Pope Benedict XVI


The second papal visit to the Holy Land in nine years has been picked up by leaders of the Jewish State as a clarion call to beckon Christians from all nations and denominations to visit the Holy Land.

"The fact that he's actually coming here to the Holy Land conveys a strong message to Christians  around the world that they should come here," Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said at a media briefing. "The government of Israel joins this message in calling Christians, come to the Holy Land, come as pilgrms, we ae ready to receive you and welcome you."

Misezhnikov spoke of Christian sites as well as other packages the State of Israel can offer - from spa treatments to holy sites - that can provide a "spiritual, extraordinary experience in a country with extraordinary landscapes and a progressive infrastructure."

Indeed, old infrastructure is getting a facelift while new is being added.

Some of the ancient sites renovated include the room in the Old City believed to be the site of Jesus' last supper. The site on Mount Zion will be host to a personal and private visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Also in Jerusalem, the Kidron Valley, once a haven for drug dealers and users, has been cleaned up and will host Jerusalem's first papal mass. The valley separates the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem's Old City. Nestled between the Eastern Gate and the Garden of Gethsamane, the valley is now home to newly planted olive trees and refurbished tombs of  including the Pillar of Absalom, the Tomb of Bene Hezir and the Tomb of Zechariah. The mass will seat up to 6,000 worshippers in the historic location.

Besides sprucing up historic and ancient sites, Israel has invested in new structures as well. "As a government we have drawn numerous lessons from previous visits (by officials)," Misezhnikov said. "All of the infrastructure is going to remain and will of course this infrastructure is designated for future."

In Jesus' home town of Nazareth, for example, a 7,000-stone seat amphitheater has been built on site for future use.

"This is one of the important things that will remain and will be an economic lever," said Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy. "We know this will be seen from around the world. This is first-class exposure and will encourage tourism in the future. We are expecting a wave of tourism following this. We hope for a specific call from the Pope for people to come and make prilrimage to the Holy Land."

By Nicole Jansezian


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