“Dashing out towards the Precipice” – an old revived tradition
NAZARETH – On Sunday 15 March 2015 Christians of Nazareth followed the popular tradition “flow out to the Precipice”. Following Sunday Mass some 200 faithful, of all generations and rites, proceeded to the Hill of the Precipice with an overview of the town below, by car or on foot, where what is known today as Pope Benedict Amphitheatre, where Pope had celebrated Mass in 2009.
Preceded by the fanfare of Latin & Greek Catholic scouts, the choir, Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Bishop Riah Abu al-Assal, Fathers Amjad Sabbara and Simaan Jarayseh, a colorful procession went up the hill, 400 m high, singing in the midst of Spring flowers.
Upon their arrival, reading of an episode from Gospel St Luke (4,16-30), followed by Msgr G.B. Marcuzzo giving a short reflexion on the real meaning and beauty of faith: “ Today as well in the Holy Land, as in the past, there are people who reject Jesus of Nazareth, but others who are open to him, to his word, to his love, like for instance the two Palestinian sisters who will be canonized next 17 May 2015, Maryam Bawardi and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas. It is their faith – total and joyful – in Jesus which has sanctified them and allowed them to operate miracles”.
Going out to the Precipice is an old popular tradition special to Nazareth which involves the whole population of the town, even Moslems, shaping thus a moment of real social friendship. It used to be observed on the 3rd Monday of Lent, when Liturgy reads the Gospel episode of the Precipice. Families used to spend the whole day on the slopes of the hill, women picking natural grass, fresh and abundant in this season, preparing them for a shared meal. Stocks of grasses were gathered for the household. In early afternoon the Franciscan parish priest would say a blessing of the Holy Sacrament in the “Grotto of the Hermites”, facing the paleontological Grotto of the “Man of Qafzeh”.
After 1948 this tradition melted out and in the 60s fell into complete oblivion. In a simplified and practical version, this tradition was revived, on the 3rd or 4th Lent Sunday, thanks to a joint action by bishops, parish priests and Annunciation Family Club. Once the event is over, families opted to stop for a while, have lunch in Nature and admire the breathtaking view which from the hilltop opens out on four cardinal points to discover Mount Hermon, Mount Thabor, Mount Carmel and the plane of Esdrelon.
Text : our correspondent in Nazareth Photos : A.K.