October saw a delegation of Knights and Dames travel to the Holy Land on pilgrimage with family and friends. Although it was not the first trip to the Middle East for some of our members, it was the first time the Gibraltar Lieutenancy organised an official visit to the land where Jesus Christ was born, lived, died and rose again. As such, it proved to be an inspiring and emotive trip, one which will be remembered by all the pilgrims for a long time.
The pilgrims were under the spiritual direction of the Lieutenancy’s Grand Prior, HE C Zammit, KC*HS, Bishop of Gibraltar. The Bishop celebrated daily masses for the group and provided opportunities for the pilgrims to go to confession. His sermons focussed the theme for the day and tied in with feast days and the particular holy site the group visited. The Order’s prayers provided a good start for morning prayer, as did the Holy Rosary. Together with the Bishop’s daily meditations, this experience proved to be nothing less than an encounter with the living Christ and with each other.
The visits were led by a local guide, James Abed Rabo, who gave the group useful information about Jesus’ homeland and His life. James also provided an eye-opening insight into the current strife faced by Christians living in the Holy Land. The latter became more evident during the group’s visit to Bethlehem in Palestine.
Nevertheless, each of the holy sites left an impact on the pilgrims. Some places affected some more than others. The peace at Magdala was impressive, as were the mosaics at Gethsemene. The jars of wine in Cana were huge, the heat in Jericho arid, the silence on board the boat on Galilee deafening. Each place the group went, retracing the good Lord’s footsteps in His land, had its particular enchantment, or should one say: grace.
Perhaps the most impactful moment for the author was in the Holy Sepulchre. Stripping the crowds aside, with the pushing and shoving of tourists clambering for a position in the Aedicule, one could, with focus, imagination and lots of love, find the sacred within the empty tomb.
Another grace filled moment was perhaps best witnessed by the group, who arrived at Calvary at the same time a priest elevated the Blessed Sacrament and said: “This is my Body which will be given up for you.” To be there, on Golgotha, in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist was simply beyond words.
During the stay in Jerusalem, the Knights and Dames were able to meet HE Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Auxiliary Bishop of the Latin Patriarchate. It was at this meeting that HE Marcuzzo presented the Pilgrim Shell to those Knights and Dames who had completed the prerequisites for the award. HE warmly welcomed Bishop Zammit and the pilgrims and hoped that they would return soon.
Thanks must go to Nena Gaggero, DHS, and her dedicated team, for their help in organising the trip. A mention must also go to all those pilgrims who accompanied the members of the Order on this trip. Their prayerful character and positive participation made the journey extra special.
The Lieutenant, HE J Gaggero, KC*HS, has already started preparing the next Lieutenancy Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Those members interested should write to directly to the Secretary, C J Cortés KHS. Non-members who might be interested in joining the next pilgrimage can contact the Lieutenancy through the contact form on this website for further information.