Waves crash on the remains of Caesarea Maratima, once a major port city. Photo by Connie Nelson.

Waves crash on the remains of Caesarea Maritima, once a major port city. Photo by Connie Nelson.

From exploring the world of Jesus in the Judean wilderness to experiencing the site of his birth in Bethlehem – on Orthodox Christmas – the Perkins School of Theology Palestine-Israel immersion group journeyed today to the coastal plains and Nazareth.

Located on the northwest coast of Israel, Caesarea Maritima was once one of the great cities of the world, rivalling Mediterranean harbors such as Alexandria and Carthage. Built by King Herod as an homage to the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, Caesarea Maritima was grandiose and became the local Roman capital following King Herod’s death.

During Roman rule Caesarea was the capital of Palestine. Pontius Pilate, the  Roman prefect best known for presiding over the trial of Jesus and ordering his crucifixion, resided here. It was in Caesarea Maritima where Cornelius, the Roman centurion, was converted by Peter, and where Paul was imprisoned before being taken to Rome.

Next, braving a winter storm of wind and rain, the group traveled to Megiddo – in Hebrew, Har Megiddo, or “Mount Megiddo.” The Book of Revelation 16:16 refers to the location as the site of the last great battle on earth: Armageddon.

The final site of the day was the Basilica of the Annunciation in the old city of Nazareth. The church was built over the traditional site where the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to become the mother of the Messiah. The sanctuary of the church was built around the dwelling – a cave – where Mary is believed to have lived and where she received the angel’s message.

Only a foot remains of the statue of Caesar Augustus, which once stood at the harbor entry. Photo by Connie Nelson.

Only a foot remains of the statue of Caesar Augustus, which once stood at the harbor entry. Photo by Connie Nelson.

 

The Roman amphitheater at Caesarea Maratima.

The Roman amphitheater at Caesarea Maritima.

 

Perkins Palestine-Israel participants at Megiddo. The plain, purported site of the final battle of Armageddon, is below.

Perkins Palestine-Israel participants at Megiddo. The plain, purported site of the final battle of Armageddon, is below.

 

Perkins alumna Cindy Riddick of Texas City, Texas, leads the afternoon reading and reflection at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Also pictured are Katie Montgomery Mears, Perkins MTS student, and Jane Graner, alumna. Photo by Connie Nelson.

Perkins alumna Cindy Riddick of Texas City, Texas, leads the afternoon reading and reflection at the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Also pictured are Katie Montgomery Mears, Perkins MTS student, and Jane Graner, alumna. Photo by Connie Nelson.

 

The Basilica of the Annunciation, in Nazareth, site of the Angel Gabriel's announcement to Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God. Photo by Connie Nelson.

The Basilica of the Annunciation, in Nazareth, site of the Angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would give birth to the Son of God. Photo by Connie Nelson.