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June 29, 2010June 29, 2010  1 comments  Uncategorized

A new audacious project being planned in the Galilee combining accommodations and archaeology will serve more than just the practical needs of travelers, but will be a link between religions, cultures and time, according to the visionary behind the idea.

The Magdala Center, which began with the idea of offering hospitality to travelers in the Galilee, is situated on an archaeological site dating back to the time of Jesus - a find that will be integrated into the location’s expanded blueprint.

“The beginning of Christianity happened there, the first disciples of Jesus became the Church and that happened in that area,” said Father Juan Solana, Charge of the Holy See at Notre Dame in Jerusalem. “It is an important link between Judaism and Christianity. I hope, as it was at that time, it could be now.”

When Solana came to manage Notre Dame, a Catholic center and guesthouse, in 2004, he quickly ascertained the situation: “Pilgrimages have two different stops - the Galilee and Jerusalem.”

“We’re all set in Jerusalem,” he noted in an interview with Travelujah (http://www.travelujah.com), the only Christian social networking site focusing on travel to the Holy Land. “We need something in the Galilee.”

migdal, magdala, notre dame, jerusalem, galileeSo Solana set to work looking for land in the Galilee to accommodate pilgrims. The land he chose happened to contain a treasure: Buried under years of civilization was an ancient city with a synagogue, possibly a marketplace, homes and clues to a town that existed during the time of Jesus.

“God helped us as we found the proper place in Migdal for Christians and Jews as well.”

For Christians, the setting of Migdal, or Magdala, is important as central to Jesus’ ministry and the region from which Mary Magdalene hailed . For Jews, the discovery of a synagogue and the location there of the revolt during the Roman period are crucial bits of history.

Solana had always wanted the Galilee site to expand upon the goal of Notre Dame, to encourage dialogue and understanding between Christians and Jews.

“The discovery of the synagogue was further confirmation of that and we hope that it will foster our goals in that sense,” he said. “We were lucky enough to find this place, the archaeological findings confirmed the mission.”

When it is completed, the Magdala Center will host a Christian guesthouse, called Notre Dame of the Galilee, with 130 rooms, a multimedia center and an archaeological site open to the public that will be of interest to Christians, Jews and all students of history.

The archaeological site was discovered during construction on the site in August. The synagogue will take about another year to uncover completely and the rest of the city will take around three years. Solana hopes to inaugurate the hotel on July 22, 2012, the Celebration of Mary Magdalene.

The site is located between the city of Tiberias and Kibbutz Ginossar and is lakefront property of 84 dunams.

In the meantime, Notre Dame is looking for volunteers to help excavate the site. The Israel Antiquities Authority, in conjunction with two Mexican universities, is overseeing the dig and this is the first time Mexican universities received a license to manage a dig in the Holy Land.

The synagogue on the site, Solana said, appeared to have been constructed by wealthy patrons between 50 BC to 100 AD. It contains mosaics, a carved stone menorah and frescoes. It is one of only seven in the world unearthed from the same period, according to the IAA.

Solana said he is also working with biblical scholars to see if there is a link between Magdala and the events in Jesus’ life. For example, Jesus’ encounter with Jarius, a synagogue ruler, and with the woman with the issue of blood, is traditionally believed to have happened in Capernaum. Solana asks, what if this happened in Magdala or if Mary Magdalene herself was the woman with the issue of blood?

Although it is barely mentioned in the Bible, Magdala was one of the larger of the cities in the Galilee at the time of Jesus. According to Jewish historian Josephus Flavius it had a population of 40,000 at the time of the first Jewish revolt (66-70 AD).

The find is appealing for locals and tourists alike. Solana said pilgrimage to the Holy Land uncovers biblical treasures such as Magdala that help believers grow in their faith. The Holy Land, he said, is the fifth gospel. It adds the setting, light, weather and natural environment to the other four gospels.

“We know usually by listening, but when you come you see things in their place, its like going from a black and white TV to a 3D plasma screen,” he described.

“There are many things special in Israel as far as religion is concerned,” he said. “There are strong deep traditions, different religions and a long story as ar as religion and culture is concerned.” And of course the sournce of Christianity is here. The more I know about Judaism, the more I know Christianity. And vice versa, I think.”

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.


July 10, 2011July 10, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

 

A new guesthouse, an archaeological site and a uniquely written Catholic mass booklet will bring to life New Testament times in the Galilee.


The Magdala Center will be on the shores of the Galilee and hosts a peek into the time of Jesus. Even though the Gospels barely mention the city, Magdala (or Migdal) played a historic role in the 1st century as revealed in the ongoing archaeological dig on the site.


migdal, magdala, notre dame, jerusalem, galileeFather Juan Maria Solana, Charge of the Holy See for the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, is the visionary behind this ambitious project and much needed accommodations. Solana spoke with Travelujah about plans to continue uncovering the ancient city on the grounds while building the 130-room guesthouse, called Notre Dame du Lac.


"I want to believe that there are a couple of gospel miracles that happened in Magdala,” Solana said.


The entire archaeological area uncovered is exclusively 1st century, which is rare. Most sites, even those nearby, usually show an overlap of periods. This one so far is purely Roman era. It has also revealed a community that was likely very wealthy.


In this synagogue they had a great leader – not common, very rich,” he said.


Solana listed some of the impressive findings in the excavations including a synagogue, a marketplace, a villa, a perfectly preserved mosaic, rooms paved with well-cut stones and three arches, one of which is still standing. The synagogue contains mosaics, a carved stone menorah and frescoes.


Another key find is the port of Magdala, some 50 meters from the current shoreline and near the marketplace. On one side of the port is all the remnants of the lake that had lapped against the wall.


With a villa, a marketplace and a port, Magdala could possibly have been more of a leading town than Capernaum, previously thought of as the “capital” of the Galilee. And the excavations continue.


We still have a lot of space to dig, dunams and dunams,” Solana said. “We will find many other things, but what we have found until now shows a very leading and active town.”


For people, especially Christian pilgrims, looking to understand the time of Jesus, we have the time of Jesus seen here, very pure.”


Solana has been consulting with biblical scholars to see if there is a link between Magdala and Jarius, the synagogue ruler whose daughter Jesus raised from the dead. Magdala was one of the larger of the cities in the Galilee at the time of Jesus. According to Jewish historian Josephus Flavius it had a population of 40,000 at the time of the first Jewish revolt (66-70 AD).


Perhaps the most special prospect though is the wooden altar, built in the shape of a first century boat, that Solana designed especially for the site. Located on the shoreline itself, the altar will used for open-air masses which can be said with a special missal written by Solana specifically for Magdala.


Solana spent two years in his spare time composing a mass booklet, a missal, for the site, drawing from gospel passages regarding Magdala, Jesus, the Galilee, Mary Magdalene, the calling of the first disciples who were on the lake's shores when Jesus called them.


The missal has been approved by the Latin patriarch.


Solana noted the need for accommodations in the Galilee when he first arrived in Israel in 2004. While Jerusalem is already rife with Christian guesthouses, the Galilee is not.


Solana hopes to inaugurate the hotel in December 2012, but will only know next year whether that will be possible. The site is located between the city of Tiberias and Kibbutz Ginossar and is lakefront property of 84 dunams.


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.





 


July 20, 2011July 20, 2011  0 comments  Uncategorized

Notre Dame is no longer just a destination for its guests, but now a stop for wine and cheese enthusiasts thanks to a new rooftop restaurant that serves up a tasty panorama of the city as well.


Since the Notre Dame Center Roof Top Wine & Cheese Restaurant opened a few months ago, news has spread through word of mouth attracting Israelis from all over the country, city residents, volunteers in Israel in addition to the hotel's guests.

notre dame, jerusalem, wine

(Photo: Travelujah)

“It has been very successful so far, and the view is awesome,” Father Juan Maria Solana told Travelujah. “It is one of the best in town.”


The wine bar, with sweeping, awe-inspiring views to the East and South of Jerusalem, opened in March. Outdoor dining is perfect after a hot Jerusalem summer day. Indoor seating is replete with modern furniture and a swank atmosphere.

 

notre dame, jerusalem, wine

(Photo: Travelujah)


The wine list has a selection of imports and Israeli vintages. Cheeses run the gamut from French gruyere to British cheddar, plus goat cheeses and fresh butter. Even if you don't like wine or cheese, a trip to the bar is worthwhile. Other drinks and a selection of light foods and meals are on the menu in addition to the exclusive wine and cheese lists.

notre dame, jerusalem, wine

(Photo: Travelujah)

 

The Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center is a diverse location. The impressive building, across from the Old City's New Gate, is home to a guesthouse, an exhibition for the Shroud of Turin, a cafe, an elegant restaurant and a church, Our Lady of Peace Chapel, in addition to other outlets.


“Notre Dame has always been looking to be a peaceful place for everyone,” Solana said.


notre dame, jerusalem, wine

(Photo: Travelujah)


By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah


Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.





 


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