The Israel Ministry of Tourism recently invited an ecumenical delegation of Indian church leaders to celebrate Lent in Israel. The delegation was headed by Mumbai Archbishop Cardinal Oswald Gracias. The objective of the visit was to foster good relations between India's Christian community and the State of Israel and to promote tourism between the two countries.
Their six-day pilgrimage, which began on February 26, included visits to various holy sites in Jerusalem such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Via Dolorosa, Mt. Zion, the Upper Room, Dormition Church, the Western Wall and much, much more.
The Custos of the Holy Land, Very Rev. Fr. Pierbatista Pizzaballa, provided a detailed overview of the different Christian communities that coexist with the other local communities. They also discussed how the Custody of the Holy Land and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism could work to enhance the spiritual experience of Indian pilgrims.
At the end of their pilgrimage, the group thanked the government for giving them this unparalleled spiritual experience of visiting the sites so central to Judaism, Islam and Christianity. They further said that the Scriptures truly came alive for them. They looked forward to returning home and being able to recommend such spiritually moving pilgrimages to their congregations to help renew and strengthen their faith.