After a long day we had a somewhat later and more leisurely start. Waking up in Madaba, after breakfast we visited the Ancient Greek Orthodox Church of St George where a 6th c. Byzantine floor mosaic has survived portraying a map of the Holy Land. Madaba is known as the “Mosaic city” and there are lots of shops selling affordable hand made mosaics. This is where we get the mosaics for our new OLR Church in Greenville.
After visiting St George church we took the time to visit the Latin (Roman Catholic) Church where there is a shrine to the beheading of John the Baptist. The execution itself took place not far from Madaba at Machaerus–the palace of Herod Antipas–one of the three sons of Herod the Great.
The ruins of the palace have been excavated, but we did not have time for a visit. There is so much to see in Jordan that we should have allowed ourselves a few extra days. If you are planning a pilgrimage to the Holy Land do not neglect Jordan. It is not as crowded as Israel. The people are friendly, the fo0d is good, the hotels excellent–and there is so much to see and do.
Below the Church of St John the Baptist there are significant ruins of the ancient city. Our guide Yusef got talking to one of the caretakers and we took a few moments to meet the parish priest before we got on our way to Jordan’s capital Amman. We had an appointment there to meet the US Ambassador, so we arrived on time–Jusef navigated the high security precautions and we sat down for a visit with Ambassador Henry Wooster and one of his consuls, Christopher Rossomundo who, as it turns out, is a reader of this blog. I gave Ambassador Wooster a copy of The Mystery of the Magi and Mr Rossomundo mentioned that he read and enjoyed it. Who knows, if my theory that the Magi were Nabateans from the Kingdom of Jordan there may one day be Magi Tours to Petra!
It was quite an experience for Elias and myself to visit with the Ambassador and Mr Rossomundo, but Jusef was waiting to take us back to the border crossing into Israel. This time the waiting was exacerbated by Israel’s policy that everyone entering needs to submit to a COVID test. This made the wait that much longer but with Elias’ help we managed to technicalities. I was relying on him because my hearing loss is bad enough, but when people are addressing me wearing a face mask and speaking with a foreign accent it is even worse. Elias proved an able assistant.
Our taxi was waiting for the trip back to Jerusalem, where we’ll spend a few days before trekking out to Bethlehem to visit some shepherds, then a day trip to Masada before Elias heads to Egypt to meet with his brother Ben for a week, and I head back to the library.