Pilgrims that visit the Holy Land despite current events
JERUSALEM – Events in recent weeks might take a toll on the number of pilgrims coming to Jerusalem. Despite of that, little flights have been canceled, and pilgrims continue to roam the Holy Land.
They come from France, Spain, the United States and Asia. They come for pilgrimage or as mere tourists, they roam the old city of Jerusalem in small groups or as families, following a tour guide and taking selfies in front of the Holy Sepulchre or the in the market. In spite of current events, they came more or less reassured.
A trip planned since a long time ago
For the majority of the pilgrims, their trip has long been planned: “we are confident and there is no way to cancel the trip” explains a father who came with his children. The word “confidence” is on everyone’s lips: “we have confidence in the organizers of these trips” says one man, who came with 20 children from his parish. A volunteer, who had recently arrived, says he doesn’t have any regrets coming to the country “it’s been a longtime that I come here, and there has always been tension, but I keep on visiting the Holy Land. We don’t risk lots of things here”.
When asked “Are you afraid?” people answer unanimously “we are worried before coming, but here we feel protected”.
Lots of groups visit the Patriarchate; Mgr. William Shomali always thanks them for their courage inviting them to pray for the Holy Land “a pilgrimage in this difficult time is a real pilgrimage, because it differs from plain tourism.”
However, if tension hasn’t discouraged pilgrims from coming here at the moment, it has an effect on future pilgrimage; fewer and fewer pilgrims and tourists are planning to come during Christmas and the start of the next season.
The factors that affect the number of pilgrims and tourists visiting the Holy Land are many: Family, friends and the media, but for whom who overcome these fears are generally not disappointed: “I don’t regret coming here, we haven’t had any problems” says a woman with a camera around her neck.
Mgr. Shomali is reassuring pilgrims to come: “don’t be afraid, because violence will not reach you”