Day 3 (1) Nazareth : Basilica of the Annunciation

In the morning we bid farewell to Rimonim Inn. Riding through the streets of Nazareth in the morning watching the citizens about to begin their daily routine was interesting. Our first destination for the day was The Basilica of the Annunciation which is located in the centre of the city of Nazareth. The basilica is built on the traditional site of the annunciation by the Angel Gabriel of the birth of Jesus. The central grotto is believed to have been the home of Mary.The present church was built in 1969. The church has a uniquely-shaped concrete dome 55 meters high. Its shape is based on the Madonna lily, a symbol of the Virgin Mary. The front door of the church has the entire story of Jesus carved on it. Inside, the basilica consists of an upper church and a lower church. The spacious upper church is decorated with mosaics of the Virgin donated by communities from around the world. It was really interesting to see paintings of Mary in the traditional dresses of many nations. The one fascinated me the most was Mary's paniting from Japan where she wore a Kimona. Paintings are also displayed outside the church. We could observe a statue of Velamkanni Matha (Annai Velamkanni) representing India. The lower church centers on the Grotto or Cave of the Annunciation, where the angelic announcement to Mary is believed to have occurred. We spent some time to look around the church which certainly had brettaking altitude from inside.
One thing I forgot to mention was we were all given red coloured cap to protect from sun and also for easy identification of the group. Whenever we entered a church our guide announced that all men should take off the hat. He said it is an old Jewish tradition that men should not wear cap inside the church. However it was intersting to note that he did not instruct women to cover their head as we do here in Kerala.

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