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Sacred Sites in Jerusalem: Church of Saint Anne, Church of Saint John the Baptist, Tomb of Virgin Mary (In Arabic)

Today’s The World Around Us will be presented in Arabic and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Welcome, noble viewers, to The World Around Us. In today’s episode, we’ll be visiting three sacred sites in Jerusalem: the Church of Saint Anne, the Church of Saint John the Baptist, and the Tomb of Virgin Mary.

Our first destination is the Church of Saint Anne. Built in the 12th century, this simple yet majestic church is to honor Saint Anne, the mother of Virgin Mary.

We are right now in the Old City of Jerusalem. And this is one of the important churches in the Old City. This church is the Church of Saint Anne. The Church of Saint Anne is the house of the parents of Virgin Mary, Joachim and Anne. And this is the birthplace of Virgin Mary.

According to the Gospel of the Birth of Mary, Anne and Joachim had no child after 20 years of a married life. Therefore, Joachim went to the wilderness and prayed to God to bless them with a child. After a period of fasting, an angel appeared and told him that they were to have a child. At the same time, Saint Anne was at home praying, for both this blessing and for her husband’s safety. It was then an angel appeared and assured she would have a daughter who would be called Mary.

This is where Vi ةزrgin Mary had been born. In the back we can see an icon showing different elements and different scenes. The most important we can see, the baby with the halo around the head, that’s Virgin Mary. And we can see also the lady on the bed with the halo around her head, that is Saint Anne, and we can see Joachim, her father, sitting on the chair.

So this is the icon which actually represents the birth of Virgin Mary herself; while you can see a sign to the left-hand side says “the Birthplace of Virgin Mary,” or “the Nativity of Our Lady Virgin Mary.”

The child called Mary grew up learning faithfulness in God. It was from this pure-hearted person that the Lord Jesus was born. Around the 12th century, people found a picture in a grotto depicting the birth of Mary. They believed that this was the birthplace of Virgin Mary and built a church at the site in honor of her mother, Saint Anne.

This is the grotto, which is actually a natural cave, where the holy family, or the parents of Virgin Mary lived. And behind us, we have a scene actually explaining the birth time of Virgin Mary. We can see her father Joachim down below, sitting, and we can see the baby on the upper part.

In this place, on the foundation of the cave, the church had been built at the 12th century. On the scene in front of us, we can see different and important elements, such as these flowers. And these flowers actually are representing the flora and the vegetation which was at the time around the area where we are staying now.

The church was once converted to a notable Muslim theological school.

By the main entrance of the church, as you notice, we can see some inscription. This is in Arabic, and says that under the leadership of Salah ad-Din this place had been changed to a school, and it was a school for approximately 2 centuries.

The church was later returned to the Christians. It is now under the management of the White Fathers, a Catholic missionary society from Africa named after their white robes.

The White Fathers are here in the Holy Land since the year 1878. And our apostolate consists in of course welcoming the pilgrims here in the Basilica of Saint Anne. Every day we receive and welcome many pilgrims from all over the world who come to pray, to ask the intercession of Saint Anne and of our Blessed Virgin Mary.

For me every day I’m very pleased to pray in this Basilica of Sainte Anne because it’s, according to the tradition, the place of birth of our Blessed Virgin Mary who is our mother and the mother of the whole Church. So it’s a very big privilege and grace for us, and for all of you who are able to visit the Holy Land.

The Church of Saint Anne has an amazing acoustics which makes it one of the best places for chanting and singing. Pilgrims and tourists are welcome to perform songs of any religion here.

Right next to the church are the pools called Bethesda, meaning House of Mercy. This was the place where Jesus Christ miraculously healed a paralyzed person, as recorded in the Bible.

These pools used to collect the rainwater which fell on the roofs of the houses in the Old City, and collected in here. People believed that the water of these pools got the power of healing. That’s why there were always large gatherings of people where they get themselves in the water to be healed from their sickness. But it’s only a chance for one person to jump on the water, and that’s the time when the water begins moving from the top surface of it.

There was a day when Jesus passed by here, and he saw a paralyzed man who was paralyzed for 38 years, and Jesus asked him, “What don’t you jump to the water to be healed?” He said, “I am here 38 years. No one helps me; no one can get me into the water to be in the water and healed.”

So Jesus told him, “Take your bed, walk and get into the water.” And the man had been healed. That happened in Saturday, and this was one of the major miracles that Jesus did at the pools of Bethesda.

When we return, we will continue our pilgrim on the Holy Land. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

Welcome back to The World Around Us on Supreme Master Television. Let’s now continue today’s journey to two more sacred sites in Jerusalem: the Church of Saint John the Baptist and the Tomb of Virgin Mary.

The Church of Saint John the Baptist is located in Ein Kerem, a beautiful and tranquil village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Ein Kerem, literally meaning the spring of the vineyard, is believed to be the biblical town “in the hill country of Judea.”

This place is said to be the birthplace of the sage John the Baptist. His father Zacharias was a high priest who had a wife named Elizabeth. They were both righteous devotees of God, but they had no child while they were aging. Once, when Zacharias was leading people in a prayer, an angel appeared and told him,

“Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.”

Indeed, the child grew up to be “a prophet of the Most High” and prepared the way for the enlightened Master Lord Jesus. The current Church of Saint John the Baptist was constructed by the Franciscans in the 17th century over the remains of the earlier churches.

Financed by Spanish Catholics, the church was built with blue and white geometric tiles on the wall. The church also displays artwork by famous Spanish painters such as El Greco. The central apse on the east side contains an altar dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. To the left is a statue of Zacharias, and to the right is Elizabeth’s statue.

The staircase at the left apse leads one to the grotto traditionally regarded as the birthplace of John the Baptist. At the arch entrance of the grotto reads a Latin inscription: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people.” The church’s bell tower marks the center of the village of Ein Kerem.

Today, in this small village, Christians peacefully coexist with Jews; both groups even attend each other’s religious celebrations, such as Yom Kippur or Christmas.

Our final destination is the Tomb of the Virgin Mary, located at the foot of the Mount of Olives. There is no biblical reference about the last days of Mary’s life or her burial place. According to the legend in Syriac and Greek texts, Mary was informed by an angel three days prior to her departure. Surrounded by her relatives, friends, and apostles of Jesus, Mary consecrated her soul to the Lord, who appeared with many angels. She was then brought to the tomb.

Three days after the burial, when the sarcophagus was opened upon the request of Saint Thomas, they found it empty with only her burial garments, as she was taken away to Heaven. This glorious event is called the Assumption.

The burial cave of Virgin Mary was later expanded into a church. This church, also known as the Church of the Assumption, has two levels. The current upper level was built by the Franciscans in the 14th century. The lower level, as well as the façade, entrance, and staircase can be dated to the 12th century. Through a stairway one enters the lower church, which was carved in an underground rock.

To the left is the chapel of Saint Joseph, Mary’s spouse. To the right is the chapel of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anne. Mary’s chapel is situated at the eastern side of the church with her tomb in the center. Dated to the 1st century, her tomb is an empty bench tomb, whose basic form resembles a bench. The eastern apse also contains Greek Orthodox altars dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

A niche facing Mecca was built on the south of the tomb, as Virgin Mary has also been very much honored in Islam. Her stories were recorded in the Holy Qur’an in many passages. Moreover, Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him, witnessed a light emitting from the tomb of Virgin Mary during his Night Journey.

Today, this peaceful place has become a cherished destination for pilgrims. Especially on August 15 every year, people gather to celebrate the feast of the Assumption in memory of Mary, the Holy Mother of Jesus Christ.

It was a pleasure to have your company on today’s journey visiting three sacred sites in Jerusalem, the Church of Saint Anne, the Church of Saint John the Baptist, and the Tomb of the Virgin Mary. May all be graced by keeping faith in God as these saints did.

Wise viewers, thank you for joining us on The World Around Us. Please now stay tuned to Supreme Master Television for Words of Wisdom, after Noteworthy News. Blessed be your pure hearts and noble deeds.

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