Faith Matters

Holy Land guide tailored to Irish pilgrims

Jerusalem is at the heart of the Holy Land, an ancient city where pilgrims can follow in the footsteps of Jesus.

THE banks of the Sea of Galilee have remained unchanged since Jesus himself set foot there as he preached the Gospel - just one of the reasons that the Holy Land is a place that transcends time.

For anyone raised as a Christian, names of places like Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Capernaum and Jerusalem roll off the tongue. When one experiences and lives the earthly sites associated with the history of salvation, the Gospel accounts come alive in a new and deeper sense.

Author Michael Kelly first visited the Holy Land as an impressionable young man of 18. As editor of The Irish Catholic, he has had the opportunity to lead a dozen pilgrimage groups to the holy sites that made their place in his heart.

These frequent visits and experiences led Mr Kelly to write his latest book, An Irish Pilgrimage Guide to the Holy Land.

He shared some of his insights in The Irish News last weekend; the book is a 'labour of love' that helps readers live the 'fifth Gospel' by visiting the earthly sites associated with Christ's life. Mr Kelly hopes the pocket-sized guidebook will be enjoyed by tourists and pilgrims alike.

The book has already attracted praise from others familiar with the Holy Land.

Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown said a pilgrimage to the Holy Land "can help us tap into our rich roots and long tradition - to rediscover Jesus, the Word made flesh, who still dwells among us".

"The Holy Land has drawn pilgrims and curious visitors for well over 2,000 years," he said.

"The small country has so many places associated with the events of the Old and New Testaments.

"I welcome this guide which is specifically designed for Irish pilgrims who want to go on pilgrimage to the holy sites. It is beautifully illustrated and carefully researched."

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said that in "these troubled times for the world", it was "good to journey, either in person or with the eyes of our hearts and minds to the places made holy by the presence of Jesus Christ himself".

"The Holy Land holds a special place in our hearts and calls us to return to the source of our faith," he said.

"This book brings the sites alive in a fresh and engaging way, shedding light on the communities that call this special land their home. Whether you are planning a trip or want to deepen your understanding of the Holy Land from home you will find this book a vital companion."

:: An Irish Pilgrimage Guide to the Holy Land by Michael Kelly is published by Columba Books and is available in all good bookshops as well as from columbabooks.com, priced £14.99/€16.99. He will lead two pilgrimages to the Holy Land in October; for more information email michael@irishcatholic.ie.

::An Irish Pilgrimage Guide to the Holy Land will be launched in the Cappagh Parish Centre in Omagh on June 3 at 8pm.

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