PaTRAM Institute™ – Days 6 and 7 of Epic Rachmaninoff CD Recording and Pilgrimage

After the successful second and final performance in Nazareth, the choir traveled to the Sea of Galilee. After the hard work to prepare and perform the concerts, the singers and staff were ready for some rest and relaxation. However, most importantly, the group was looking forward to experiencing all the holy sites in the area as pilgrims.

The next day (Day 6) began with a trip to the Jordan River, the site where it is said Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. There is a tradition that all pilgrims cover their bodies before bathing in the Jordan. The local shop sells the typical bathing “gown” that both men and women wear over their bathing suits as seen in the photograph. The gown is not mandatory but covering up is.

After the blessing of the water by our two accompanying Bishops, His Grace Bishop Theodosy and His Grace bishop Nicholas, we entered the cool water and were submerged by both Their Graces and blessed in the River Jordan.

Once blessed, all the brethren jumped into the waters of the Jordan for a group photo. Don’t worry, our group’s photographer, George Konyev, was also able to wade into the water after he shot the photo.

Having been invigorated by the blessed waters of the Jordan, the choir and pilgrims boarded the bus for the trip to Cana. Cana is known as the place where Jesus attended a wedding and performed His first miracle, turning water into wine upon the request of His Holy Mother, the Virgin Mary, as the wine had run out for the wedding celebration.

Jesus’ first miracle is represented in the “Wedding Church”, a Catholic church that stands on the very spot where the miracle took place and contains the water urns where the water was transformed.

After returning to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, the group was rewarded for their efforts in performance, by PaTRAM Chairman Alex Lukianov and PaTRAM Artistic Director Katya Lukianov, with a stunning sunset cruise on Sea of Galilee. It was a beautiful evening with the sun shining brightly on the now relaxed group as they sailed in a wooden boat on the peaceful sea.

After a restful night’s sleep, Day 7 began with the choir and the pilgrims setting out to their next Holy Land site, the Mount of the Beatitudes.  This is the place where Jesus Christ made His famous Sermon on the Mount, teaching the masses how to live a Christian life and performing the miracle of feeding the crowd of thousands with two fish and five loaves of bread. The location sits high above the Sea of Galilee with colorful flowers and arresting view of the water.

The primary structure on the grounds is the Roman Catholic Mount of the Beatitudes Church. The group was able to pray outside on the church’s wrap-around veranda.

After a short water break, the group boarded the bus for their next Holy Land site, Mount Tabor. The monastery at the top of the mountain cannot be accessed by our tour bus so the group had to break up into smaller groups and board vans that shuttled everyone to the top. The view on the way was spectacular.

Although it took time, everyone was able to ascend to the Transfiguration Monastery at the top of Mount Tabor. It was worth the trip! This is the location where the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ took place and witnessed by His disciples, Peter, James and his brother John. The Greek Orthodox Transfiguration Church is a very simple stone building on the outside but an iconographer’s bounty of holy imagery on the inside.

One can spend an entire afternoon looking at all the beautiful colors, the relics and icons on every wall of the church. Still, the afternoon had another stop in store for the group, the Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea is a body of water that is so saturated with salt that one can easily float without submerging. The salt that is in the mud, below the water and on the shore, is used for skin treatments and is sold locally to visitors. Spas are prevalent and known for the ages-old methods of skin cleansing and exfoliation.

The day ended with those that wished to take a plunge into the waters of the Dead Sea. After changing, the group boarded the bus back to the Sea of Galilee for the final night’s stay and then back to Jerusalem, to start the recording of the CD the next day.