June 2011

Pilgrimage to Sebastia

After many years, ancient Samaria goes back to being a pilgrimage and tourist spot. The region, mentioned in both the old and the new Testament, presents a priceless religious, cultural and archaeological heritage and has today a new added value. Sebastiya, capital of the region, hosts important remains of the Roman, Byzantine and Crusader ages, recently restored thank to the intervention of ATS pro Terra Sancta; the project, in cooperation with Sebastiya Municipality and the Mosaic Centre Jericho, brought to the creation of a Guesthouse near the archaeological area, with the aim of contributing to the economic and commercial development and the safeguard of the local culture. In this spirit, Mr. Roberto Rita will lead a group of pilgrims to the Holy Land, with a three-day stopover in Samaria. The “Praying Pilgrimage” has been organized with an eye to “not enacting the usual stop-and-go trend too common among pilgrims”, writes Mr. Rita; the pilgrims will stay in Sebastiya, some in the Guesthouse and some with local families. For them, the pilgrimage will be a quest for their Christian roots, but will also be a great opportunity of dialogue and cultural exchange, in the town where the tomb of John the Baptist – prophet also remembered by the Muslims with the name of Yahia – is traditionally located.

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