Volunteering at Magdala on the Sea of Galilee!

Ever since May 20, 2014, the day I received Sue Mullski’s email with information on Fr Juan Solana’s amazing discovery of the town of Magdala (a first century fishing village on the Sea of Galilee), I have wanted to go there.

That day I began research on the Magdala Center. I watched all Fr Solana’s videos over and over and began to write the blog post – Magdala on the Sea of Galilee, Unearthed. I wanted to go there more than anything!

This summer, Fonda McGowan of Orlando wrote to me because of her interest in Saint Mary Magdalene. Fonda has regularly volunteered at Magdala and now the two of us are volunteering for two weeks this November. Wow! My dream is becoming a reality….

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Duc in Altum Church in Magdala

Volunteering at Magdala

The design of the church with the boat as the altar fulfills Fr. Solana’s dream to have the pilgrims really experience Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. “Jesus used to preach to the crowds from Peter’s boat, so we tried to reproduce that idea here.” said Fr. Solana. “Our plans, with a higher providence, merged very, very strongly.” Looking out past the altar in the Duc in Altum Church at the Magdala Center one can see the calm waters of the Sea of Galilee.

This will be my first trip to the Holy Land. There is time before and after my volunteer time to visit some of the holy sites. I have created this MAP of my wish list:

Holy Land MAP

I am also currently writing a book on the lives of the apostles entitled, Moved by the Spirit, so visiting these holy sites will help in my research. I plan to blog about Volunteering at Magdala, day by day while I am there in November.

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In 2006, with donations Fr. Solana was able to purchase the first plot of land which housed the 1960’s Hawaii Beach resort. Fr. Solana’s idea was to knock down the old holiday cabins and build in their place a hotel for 300 guests. One by one he acquired three more plots of land. He now had a little over 20 acres on the Sea of Galilee which cost $16 million and could finally begin to fulfill his dream. The name given to his project was Magdala Center. The Magdala Center Project plans included a hotel for pilgrims, a restaurant and multimedia center, a center for women and a spirituality center. Building permits were acquired in 2009, but before construction could begin, archaeological surveys were required by the state of Israel.

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Amazing archaeological discoveries in Magdala!

The dig performed by Israeli Antiquities Authority only went as deep as a foot below the surface when they unearthed a rare archaeological treasure: one of the oldest synagogues in the world, with traces of frescos and decorations dating from the time of Christ and the apostles, where Jesus may well have taught. Remember Matthew 4:23 – “Then he went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every illness among people.”

First-century synagogues are a rarity, and this is only the seventh synagogue found from this period in Israel. What archaeologists know about the synagogue’s construction also suggests to some scholars that Jews and the earliest Judeo-Christians may have worshipped together at this holy site.

Ancient ruins of first-century synagogue in Magdala, IsraelAncient ruins of first-century synagogue in Magdala, Israel

The Magdala StoneThe Magdala Stone

The Magdala Stone discovered in the synagogue’s main hall is perhaps the most interesting find. It is a 3-foot-long limestone block elaborately carved on the sides and top. On one side is the first pre-70 Galilean depiction of a seven-branched menorah between 2 amphorae (jars) and fluted columns (another early menorah is the drawing in plaster found in a mansion in the Herodian quarter in Jerusalem). The precise function of the stone remains uncertain – it may have been used as a table on which Torah scrolls were rolled out and read.

All this was merely twenty inches beneath the topsoil. Incredibly, no other towns had been built over it in the centuries since. And no one had disturbed it. It was waiting, like Pompeii, to be discovered.

Mosaic floor uncovered in Magdala. Photo: Rina Castelnuovo, courtesy the New York TimesMosaic floor uncovered in Magdala. Photo: Rina Castelnuovo, courtesy the New York Times

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Sea of Galilee Bracelet

My inspiration for this Sea of Galilee charm bracelet is Father Juan Solana’s incredible story of his Magdala Center Project.

This Sea of Galilee charm bracelet is made with triple Parisian sterling silver chain and has a fishing net feel. A copper fish is the center charm topped with ruby. A small sterling silver medal of Mary Magdalene as she looked when listening to Jesus is one of the focal points of the bracelet. The semi-precious stones from left to right are London blue topaz, light blue crystal, amethyst, Czech glass, pink glass, aquamarine, citrine crystal, aquamarine, purple velvet crystal, sapphire, freshwater pearl, aquamarine, fuchsia topaz and apatite. The background is the Sea of Galilee, where she lived in Magdala when she first met Jesus.

This lovely charm bracelet also includes a seashell, fish bone, anchor, tiny heart, scallop shell and crucifix – all in sterling silver. The “Sea of Galilee” tag at the clasp is made of sterling silver and has “Mary of Magdala” etched on the back. The recast 29 AD ancient BRONZE PRUTAH coin issued by Pontius Pilate and minted in Jerusalem is made of bronze (exactly like the original coin). The bracelet is packaged in a mesh gift bag and comes with a map of the Sea of Galilee. This sterling silver charm bracelet is truly a treasure!

 

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