Provincial Priory of Worcestershire

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Some brief reflections on a Knights Templar Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

Anne and I have just returned from Israel, where we went on a Pilgrimage with nearly 70 Bro Knights from all over our Order, including Holland, Hong Kong and the Seychelles as well as England, under the leadership of our Great Chancellor, the R E Kt His Hon Judge Ian Alexander, QC, KCT.

In an action packed 11 days, we visited all the main Christian sites of interest, including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, went on a boat trip around the Sea of Galilee, seeing the Church of the Loaves and Fishes and saw the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount and onto Capernaum where Jesus often preached in the Synagogue. We drove to Cana of Galilee to the Wedding Church (site of the First Miracle). Previously, we’d walked down Palm Sunday Road, visited the Church of All Nations at the Garden of Gethsemane and walked along the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We learned that the Protestants do not believe that Golgotha is in the site that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre occupies but is a short distance away, where we saw the Garden Tomb and a rock shaped like a skull at the foot of which it is said that Jesus was crucified. On our way home, we visited Emmaus, where Jesus first appeared to his disciples after his resurrection where there is now a Templar Chapel.

We also visited places of interest to Knights Templar, such as the Crusader fortress of Belvoir, high above Jericho. We visited Acre, where the Hospitallers moved to in 1191 from Jerusalem; the site contains the Knights Halls and many other impressive halls as well as a 350m long tunnel, linking the fortress to the port. Leaving Acre, we visited Montfort, an important Templars’ site and Crusaders castle. We also went to Caesarea, visiting the excavations and the Crusader Fortress.

Of more general Masonic interest were our visits to King Solomon’s Quarries, seeing a computer reconstruction of the rebuilding of the Second Temple and a marvellous scaled model of the Second Temple and Jerusalem shortly before its destruction in 70AD.

The highlight of our trip was undoubtedly our Reception at St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, where we talked at length with the extremely dedicated members of staff and where Ian Alexander presented the Hospital with a cheque for nearly £137,000 for the Anabta Project. We were told that this sum would not only provide funding for the equipment but would also cover running costs for a number of years to come. We were treated to a very tasty BBQ and buffet and given a small gift to remember our visit. Worcestershire Knights Templar can be particularly proud that the Mazda 5 given to the Hospital as part of our 150 year celebrations in 2007 was parked just outside the front door and the Director of the Hospital told me that it had been very reliable, running as sweet as a nut around the very large area covered by the Hospital, and now having travelled over 100,000 kilometres maybe we could consider raising funds for its replacement!

David Carey, PGtAdeC.        29th June 2011