There were emotional scenes this morning (Thursday), as 25 of the Chilean Miners and their spouses visiting Israel toured Jerusalem's Old City; including the Holy Sites along the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Western Wall.
The miners are on an eight day tour of the Holy Land as guests of the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
They were greeted in the Old City by Church leaders and met with Western Wall Chief Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch. He welcomed them at special ceremony on the Western Wall Plaza and invited the miners to place a note of prayer between the stones of the Western Wall.
Miners at the Western Wall
Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, many of the pilgrims cried as they knelt in prayer, and told of the emotion and relief they felt to be able to worship and give thanks in the Holy Land after their miraculous rescue.
At a press conference yesterday following their arrival, one of the Miners, Jose Henriquez who acts as the "Pastor" of the group said "We are here in awe, it is honor to be here. And we hope we can comprehend fully what every place means and that we take this experience home with us."
He added "It's a blessing to be here, in the place of the origin of God, to whom we prayed so much while being inside the mine."
Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov welcomed the group, at the airport and accompanied them to Jerusalem, and at the Holy Sites. "For you this may be in part an opportunity to express a kind of thanksgiving. For us it is a unique opportunity for a close encounter with a truly unique group of people with a spirit of endurance.
"The Holy Land with all its sacred sites provides visitors with a moving, spiritual and religious experience, for believers of all faiths."
The Miners will this afternoon visit the Garden Tomb, where they will participated in a ceremony of bread and wine, and each family received a bible in Spanish. In the coming days they will also visit Nazareth, Tiberius, the Dead Sea and Masada and will be invited to participate in a baptism ceremony at the River Jordan. On Saturday they will travel to Bethlehem and visit the Church of the Nativity.
Inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher