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Walking Roads: Nazareth to Bethlehem

By Silvia Holgado

December 2nd, 2021 - Advent Newsletter I Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center


It was the Romans who built what we can call the “first road” in the Holy Land. It was the year 54 AD. That "road" linked the coastal cities of Tire (in present-day Lebanon) and Ptolemaida (present-day Akko in Israel). A few years later an extension of that "road", between Caesarea Marítima and Meggido, was built, until reaching Gerasa (in present-day Jordan). It is a continuously growing road network, which today has become modern, heavily traveled roads.

Formerly, caravans and walkers traveled these lands on unpaved roads that linked an essential element for life: water springs. The travelers could endure two or three days without a source of water, but not much longer.

Traveling one of these routes offers us a journey with immense spiritual content: the Way of the Patriarchs.

Photo: Roman Roads by Adrianno Pucciarelli


Traveling one of these routes offers us a journey with immense spiritual content: the Way of the Patriarchs. The road, from north to south through the center of the region, is so named because, in the biblical accounts of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it is mentioned with many different allusions. For us, now in Advent, this path takes on a special meaning, because of the pregnant young woman who, most likely, traveled it about 2000 years ago, from Nazareth to Bethlehem, passing through Meggido, Samaria (Sebaste), Sichem, Shilo, Bethel, and Jerusalem. Always going south until one winter night she reached a grotto in Bethlehem. A path of uncertainty and hope, of weariness and joy to come. A path that we also travel in our lives today. How it nourishes the spirit "to step" in these places hand by hand with Mary!

This path takes on a special meaning, because of the pregnant young woman who, most likely, traveled it about 2000 years ago...

It is very interesting to discover and visit the springs that link the sections of old roads, some are still active and can be visited. Also in doing so, and in the light of the Gospel narratives, we realize how Jesus began his last journey from the sources of the Jordan in the region of Caesarea Philippi (archaeological site of Tel Banias) until he reached Jerusalem, where He Himself offered us the water of life from his Heart pierced on Calvary. But we leave this pilgrimage for another time.


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