CATHOLIC FINISH STRONG
Steve Timm's Blog

More Travel Pictures
For Blog entries from June 6, 2013 to...
The Wedding Church at Cana was built in 1901 and it is a gorgeous little church. Deep underneath the structure is an archaeological excavation that has unearthed a 1st century synagogue and a 4th century cross-shaped Christian church. Local tradition has it that these structures were built on the exact place mentioned in John 2:1-11, where Jesus performed his first miracle; turning water into wine.
We renewed our wedding vows at the Wedding Church at Cana. This was an enormous thrill for both Karen and me
After renewing our wedding vows at the Wedding Church at Cana, we took a few minutes to look around this gorgeous little church and pose in front of the Altar and Sanctuary. Karen keeps telling me that we now have TWO Anniversaries ... maybe so :-)
At the deepest part of the archaeological dig is this remnant of a Hebrew mosaic that was once in the 1st century synagogue. What an amazing two-thousand year old artifact. Did Jesus and Mary see this mosaic? Did Jesus and Mary walk on it?
We brought several "Pilgrim's Rosaries" back from our pilgrimage to Israel. In this photo, I'm touching each of the rosaries to the foundation of the 1st century synagogue. The wire running out of my ear goes to a small microphone; our guides each had transceivers and they could tell us about interesting things without yelling to one-hundred pilgrims. The range of transmission was about 300-yards, so it also kept folks from getting lost.
This is the stone water jar in the lower part of the archaeological excavation below the Wedding Church at Cana. The water jar was found in exactly this place and position within the ruins of a 1st century synagogue.  

It is quite possible that this was one of the six stone water jars involved in Jesus' first miracle ... when He turned water into wine. WOW, just thinking of that gives me goosebumps!!!

This is the beautiful certificate we received from The Wedding Church at Cana when Karen and I renewed our marriage vows. We framed the certificate and it is displayed prominently in our home.
Picture from To A Satisfactory Son dated July 3, 2013 
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem has perhaps the most unique entrance of any of the world's churches. Apparently, mounted raiders commonly looted Christian churches during the late Crusades and the Ottoman era. To combat this, two of the entrances of the Church of the Nativity were entirely walled-up and the remaining one was reduced to a tiny two-foot by four-foot opening. Almost any adult must duck low and carefully navigate the small doorway which has been very descriptively named "The Door of Humility."
Following the 1934 earthquake, the Greek Orthodox buried the original mosaic floor under two-feet of imported soil and layed new marble slab floor. This photo shows a section of the original 4th century mosaic floor. The theme of the mosaics are as bright and as beautiful as when Saint Helena the Great supervised the building of the church.
BELOW
The Greek Orthodox sanctuary is a place of worship that is seemingly untouched by time. It is dark and mysterious. Again, it was one of those moments when I really wished I knew more about what I was experiencing.
ABOVE
At one time, each of the church's forty-four columns were covered with frescoes of the Nativity of Christ, the Holy Family, the Apostles and the Saints. Regrettably, the three Catholic sects who manage the Church of the Nativity cannot agree how to repair the leaking roof and, as a result, most of the frescoes have been destroyed.

The far wall is covered with literally hundreds of magnicent icons, crucifixes and incredible religious art. I could easily spend a half-day simply looking at the ancient artworks. 
Just before we descended into the cave, we saw this fantastic icon of Our Lady and the Christ Child. I know very little about icons, but this artwork is absolutely incredible.  I captured my two favorite ladies, the Virgin Mary and my wife of 49 years, Karen, in one photo ... that is a hard act to follow :-)
In the Grotto of the Nativity, there is a ground-level altar that has a fourteen-pointed silver star upon it. There is a hole in the center of the star. When we placed our hands down into the hole, we could actually touch the stone manger.

Being able to actually touch the place where the baby Jesus was laid is an incredible experience. In this photograph, Karen and I are touching our personal Holy Rosaries on the Manger.
The Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria is a sparkling little jewel box of a Catholic church. It was built over the site where Princess Catherine of Alexandria received an intense vision of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary in 303 AD. Catherine was raised a pagan and upon receiving the vision, she became a devout Christian.
 
The Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria is the parish church of all Roman Catholics in the town of Bethlehem. The Christmas Midnight Mass at the church is always featured on television clips of Christmas in Bethlehem.

All of the stained glass windows in the Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria are based on either the Nativity of Jesus Christ or the Holy Family. The enormous stained glass window above the altar and sanctuary is absolutely magnificent.
Karen and I found this side altar at the Church of Catherine of Alexandria to be a very intimate place for prayer. The inlayed marble altar, the icons and the gold cross are absolutely exquisite.
This stained glass window at the Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria is my very favorite of the many windows in the church. The scene depicts the Holy Family and the visit of the Magi; the detail is simply incredible.
The pews in the Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria are handmade of light oak. On the end of each pew is a handcarved Jerusalem Cross.
 
The Jerusalem Cross, is also known as the Crusader's Cross or Five-Fold Cross. Depicted in the Jerusalem Cross are the Five Wounds of Christ and the four quarters of the world. Many Christians see the Jerusalem Cross as representing Jesus Christ and the Four Evangelists.
 
The origin of the Jerusalem Cross is unknown, but it was in general use in the 10th century.

Photograph by Naskies