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Oct 16

Nebo Nebo

Moses went to Mt. Nebo and now, for the first time in 10 years, you can as well. Just don't die when you get there.

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© David Bjorgen

The reopening of the Moses Memorial on Mt. Nebo in Jordan was heralded by Christian,Jewish, and Muslom communities in a ceremony last Saturday. According to tradition the Memorial stands on the site where Moses got his glimpse of the Promised Land before his death. Moses, you see, had gotten a bit stroppy with a rock and said something he shouldn't so God wouldn't let him go on over. At least that is the official explanation. He was probably just old and sick and tired of all of the Wanderers' whining.

In the 4th century AD a sanctuary, mentioned by the pilgrim nun Egeria, was built on Mount Nebo (Fasaliyyeh in Arabic) to honor Moses, possibly on the site of an even older structure. The church was finished by 394 AD and had three east apses flanked by funerary chapels on the north and south sides.

In the 6th century, the church was enlarged and transformed into a basilica with a sacristy and new baptistery (whose surviving floor mosaics date from c.530 AD). Soon the church was the heart of a large monastery and pilgrimage center that would thrive for nearly six centuries.

The site was abandoned by 1564 and remained mostly neglected for several centuries more. Finally, in 1993, the site was purchased by the Franciscans, who excavated and restored the area. On March 19, 2000, Pope John Paul II visited the site during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, planting an olive tree next to the Byzantine chapel for peace. (all according to Sacred-Destinations.com)

For the last ten years the site has been under renovation but is now re-opened.

Cardinal Leonardo Sandr, speaking on behalf of the Pope, said:“We are called particularly in these difficult times to make our own daily exodus… We must set out towards a new found freedom, the freedom to meet and to walk together towards a promised land.”

As long as we don't wind up killing each other on Mt. Nebo.

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