Most of the holy sites we’ve visited look radically different from how they did during the time of Jesus and the apostles. However, during our recent trip to Caesarea, we encountered massive ruins still standing from the time of King Herod (37 BC- 1 AD). Caesarea was a major Roman city during the first century, with a man-made port and large theater. Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Caesarea still boasts of scenic beaches and ocean views.
The pilgrims looking out, with the remains of the port in the distance
Caesarea was the site of St. Paul’s long imprisonment leading up to his deportation to Rome. St. Paul was accused of inciting public disorder and spent two years on house arrest in Caesarea, during which time he authored many of the letters included in the New Testament. He chose to appeal to Caesar in order to witness to the people, even though he knew this would lead to his martyrdom.
Meditating on Sacred Scripture together on the shore
We took the train from Modi'in (near Emmaus, home of the Maccabees) to Caesarea and walked the remaining eight kilometers to the Roman ruins. We spent hours exploring the immense structures, then sat down to read Scripture and meditate on St. Paul’s time of imprisonment together.
Taking a break from the hike to exercise
Caesarea is also the site of the baptism of St. Cornelius, another important moment in salvation history. God had promised Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, that “in [his] descendants all the nations of the earth will find a blessing” (Gen. 22:18). Thus within the special relationship the Jews have with God is the anticipation of their blessing extending to non-Jewish peoples. Jesus brings God’s blessing of salvation to the Jews, so when the Holy Spirit inspires Peter to extend that blessing to the Roman centurion Cornelius (Acts 10), that final blessing is no longer just for the Jewish people; it is for all nations.
Taylor at the theater
After our time at the ruins, we continued to walk along the beach toward the remains of a large aqueduct, and had a chilly swim in the Mediterranean. We enjoyed a picnic lunch together on the beach before packing up and heading back to Emmaus.
Pilgrims at the beach
We have just a few weeks left here in the Holy Land. Please continue to pray for us as our journey here draws near a close!