Ein Karem Churches
It is worth mentioning that this year 2021 a complete restoration of the “Church of John BaHarim” is taking place, so there is NOT much to see inside.
The “Church of visitation” is divided into Lower and Upper parts, inside the first a crypt dating back to the byzant era with a water wail suspected to erupt exactly when Mary & Elizabeth had met. Also, remains of a rock where tradition suggests Elizabeth hid with John when the Roman came to kill all babies in the order of King Herods. Outside on the south wall, 70 plates encrypted with different languages of Mary’s song of praise to Elizabeth, the “Magnificat”, one of the most ancient Mary’s hymns recorded in Luke’s Gospel:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked with favor on His humble servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed, the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His Name. He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has come to the help of His servant Israel for He has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen, Alleluia.“
In 1937 the Franciscans excavated the grounds of what is now the Upper part of the “Church of Visitation”, designed, constructed, and completed by Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi in 1955, staring at us with a butterfly tie from the southern fresco.
The churches exploring will NOT be complete without visiting the “Norte-Dame de Sion” on the southwest Ein-Karem summit. With its fantastic view to the valley, beautifully kept gardens and tranquil serenity all around in the air. “Norte-Dame” pilgrims guest house can be booked, but beautiful as it is, it is intended for basic level. The nicest overnight hotel at Ein-Karem is undoubtedly the Alegra Hotel.