Sister Marianna reflects upon pilgrimage to Holy Land

“I was filled with wonder to walk where Jesus walked in his life.” 

So shares Sister Marianna Ableidinger of her January 2019 pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where she traveled along some of the same paths that Christ did. Her journey throughout Israel and the ground upon which Jesus once stood began last spring in Spooner, Wisconsin. She was there to visit a good friend who spoke of an upcoming trip to the Holy Land. The invitation was a sign that “the Lord had plans for me,” says Sister Marianna. Twelve months later, with the support of four parishes in the Diocese of Superior in which she ministers, Sister Marianna found herself one of 40 pilgrims on a 10-day expedition throughout the Holy Land.

Her experience began in Caesarea and Mt. Carmel. “In Nazareth, we celebrated Mass at the Church of the Annunciation. We boarded a boat like one that Jesus would have ridden in and, with delight and peace, sailed the Sea of Galilee.” They visited Capernaum and the Franciscan Church of St. Peter’s Primacy “where Jesus appeared after the resurrection. From the heights of Mount Tabor, the place of the Transfiguration, one could see why Jesus chose this extraordinary place to reveal himself.”

Sister Marianna Albeidinger (second from left) and guide Father Madanu Bala Showry (far right), pictured with other pilgrims; the Sea of Galilee as seen from Sister Marianna's hotel window; the Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. Photos courtesy of Sister Marianna Ableidinger. 

At the Jordan River, “some in the group were baptized by immersion and others had the water poured over our heads. On route to Judea, we stopped at the Roman ruins at Beth Shean and experienced a view of beautiful Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. We visited the Garden of Gethsemane, the Shrine of the Book (where we viewed the Dead Sea Scrolls) and Ein Karem, the birthplace of John the Baptist.” They traveled to Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity, the Crusader’s Cloister and the Grotto of St. Jerome “where we celebrated the Christmas Mass.” They visited Qumran. “Some of us floated in the Dead Sea."

They drove along Kidron Valley to St. Peter in Gallicantu where Jesus was held in the house of Caiaphas, saw the Church of St. Ann, the Pool of Bethesda, Pilate’s Judgement Hall, the Chapel of Flagellation and the Arch of Ecce Homo. “We prayed the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa and celebrated Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We entered the tomb, touched the True Cross of crucifixion, placed our hands on the stone on which Jesus was laid.” In Jerusalem, Sister Marianna and her companions went to Mt. Zion, the tomb of King David, the Church of Domitian of Mary “with its beautiful artwork” and the Cenacle. “We entered the Old City through Zion Gate and made our way to the Western Wall, remembering all in our petitions and prayers.”

For her pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Sister Marianna shares much thankfulness. “I am abundantly grateful to God, our guide Father Bala and the people who made this experience possible for me. As I reflect on the places I visited, people I encountered and Scripture I received, my heart is filled with gratitude.”

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