|A model of the Magdala project.|
March 22, 2011. Jerusalem, Israel. Several years ago, Fr Juan
María Solana, LC, had an idea while in St. Peter’s
Basilica in Rome. As Chargé of the Holy See for
the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, he was entrusted with
the responsibility of overseeing a pilgrimage center with an illustrious
history, and of making it grow to meet the needs
of a modern era. So far, the center had effectively
met the needs of pilgrims traveling to the holy city.
But what about the pilgrims who went to Galilee to
explore the places of Jesus’ public life? Since Galilee is
a vacation place for many Israelis, it was not always
possible to find a hotel with the ambiance of a
That was when the idea occurred to
him: why not create a twin center on the shore
of the Sea of Galilee?
Over time, the
idea began to take shape: as if by Providence, he
and his team of lay colleagues found a plot of
land on the lakeshore, in what used to be the
ancient town of Magdala. They obtained all of the necessary
permissions from the Israeli government, bought the land, and began
drafting architectural plans for what would become not just a
hotel, but also a multimedia center, a basilica dedicated to
St. Mary Magdalene, an international center on the dignity of
women, and a museum.
|The land of the planned Magdala Center under construction.|
This last building—the museum—was added
on at the end when significant findings were uncovered during
the routine archaeological excavations that take place before any construction
is carried out in the Holy Land. An exceptional first-century
menorah was found, and more recently, a villa of extraordinary
beauty, decorated by a rare mosaic which is only now
being uncovered and restored. These ruins, along with the many
artifacts found in the soil, will be on display in
the Notre Dame of Magdala Museum.
The project has
also been enriched by the participation of hundreds of volunteers,
mainly youth from Chile who spent several months at a
time assisting with the excavations. More recently, the Legionary novices
from Ireland have also been assisting with the excavations as
part of their summer work month, which is traditionally dedicated
to manual labor projects. To view a video of the
Legionary novices working on site, click here.
Juan Solana sends out a monthly newsletter in English and
in Spanish detailing the most recent progress made on the
project. Intended mainly for past pilgrims, it is also open
to anyone who has an interest in a project that
has developed from the seed of an inspiration to a
full-fledged work in progress.
|Fr Juan Solana presents the Magdala project to Pope Benedict XVI.|
If you would like
to stay up-to-date on the most recent advances in the
Notre Dame of Magdala Center, you can request to be
added to the Magdala Center Newsletter at this link.
The newsletter will soon be sharing information and pictures about
an exciting new step: the raising up of the hotel
Past issues of the newsletter are also available for
viewing here in PDF format:
you would like more information about the Notre Dame of
Magdala Center, visit the web site at: www.magdalacenter.com.
volunteering at the excavation site? Click here for more
information or contact Carina Scholz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
in going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land? The
New Gate Tours travel agency specializes in arranging spiritual
pilgrimages to Jerusalem, with lodging at the Notre Dame of
Jerusalem Center. To find out about upcoming pilgrimage packages, click