Photo: Bishop Murphy, second for left, joins his fellow bishops on the altar during Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. (Jen Hardy/ Catholic Relief Services photo)


Bishop Murphy continues to blog from the Holy Land where he is on a Pilgrimage of Peace with 18 U.S. bishops.

The rest of the 18 bishops arrived today, a few looking a tad tired from the flight but all eager to get into the swing of things and happy to be together to pray here in Jerusalem.

This afternoon we did what all pilgrims do. We set out for the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the basilica that rises over Golgotha where Jesus was crucified and the basilica in which we find the tomb in which Jesus was laid. Our guide brought us through this holy place and gave us time to pray quietly at the place of the crucifixion. The Greek Orthodox priest very kindly let us bishops go four by four into the place of the holy sepulcher there to pray at and venerate where Jesus was laid in the tomb.

Every time I visit this most holy place I discover something I had not seen before. Our guide, Andre, brought us into two places cared form by the Armenian Apostolic Church. The first is their beautiful chapel, the largest single chapel in the basilica. The second, a sacred space where there is an excavated tomb from the time of Jesus. Tradition tells us that Joseph of Arimethea  made his family tomb, hewn out of rock, the place where Jesus’ body was laid. Right near by this family tomb hewed from the porous rock might well have been the tomb for Joseph and his family.


Photo above: Bishop Murphy in The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. (Jen Hardy/ Catholic Relief Services photo)

At six in the evening we gathered in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, maintained by the Franciscan Friars. Bishop Pates of Des Moines was principal celebrant and offered a beautiful homily that placed us spiritually in the right context and then set forth the goals of our pilgrimage, to pray for peace, to enter into dialogue with all parties in the recent conflicts without favoring one over the other, to be a witness against violence and for mutual respect, mutual understanding and commitment to building a future of hope for all in the Holy Land.

May The Lord bless our efforts and may we all be one in prayer for peace in this land sacred to The Lord and in all places where violence and hatred are the order of the day.