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It was on a Fourth of July that I arrived in America. I did not understand why all the shops were closed. When I inquired, I was told that everyone was out having picnics or barbecues and setting off fireworks.
On Easter Sunday this year, two names were added to the Catholic list of canonized saints, Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Two men who had held the position of Pope, Benedict XVI and Francis, performed the ritual of canonization.
Since the beginning of mankind’s story, there has been belief in life after death.
Buddhism is the fourth largest religion in the world, having about 375 million adherents. It is an offshoot of Hinduism. While it had its start in India in the fifth century B.C., few adherents of the religion now live there.
At midnight on Dec. 24, church bells all over the world will ring out the joyful news of Christmas. From Bethlehem’s Manger Square to London’s Trafalgar to Rome’s Piazza Navona the chimes will be heard. For more than 1,600 years the message of the birth of Christ has been so proclaimed.
Most people were surprised when the Catholic Church elected an Argentinean as Pope Francis. For more than 400 years, until Karol Józef Wojtyła from Poland became Pope John Paul II, all popes had been Italian.
Hinduism is the oldest of the major religions and is almost exclusively Indian. In fact, to be a Hindu means to respect the traditions of India. There are more than 900 million Hindus in India. It is not a single unified religion but a combination of beliefs and practices accumulated over 5,…
The feast of Shavuot (Pentecost), occurring 50 days after Passover, was one of the great pilgrim feasts of ancient Judaism.
Belief in the resurrection of the dead among the Israelites stems to the time of the exile, in fifth century B.C.
Syncretism, the combining of different beliefs and philosophies in religion, is inevitable. The three major Western religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all which developed in the Middle East, are a prime example.
Displays of the Nativity of Jesus can be seen in Christian churches and homes over the Christmas season.
St. Benedict is often credited with founding monasticism in Europe in the fifth century.
Camino De Compostello, or the Way of St. James, has existed since the eighth century. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times, together with Rome and Jerusalem.
Along with Passover and the feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost was one of the great pilgrim feasts of ancient Judaism, when all were called to Jerusalem.
A few years ago at the archaeological dig at Bethsaida, a large stella was found bearing an image of what looked like a bull. It caught the attention of scholars worldwide who eventually deciphered it as the “moon god.” Similar stellae had been found in various digs throughout the Middle East.
In the middle of the fifth century, the Roman Empire was collapsing. Barbarian tribes were closing in on all sides and Rome was no longer able to withstand them.
Rome was at peace. The Pax Romana came into effect with Augustus in 27 B.C. and lasted for about 180 years. The birth of Jesus occurred during this period of peace.
Libraries have existed since the beginning of civilization.
(As reconstructed from archaeological finds, the Gospels and other texts)
This year celebrates the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
Archaeology has been called “the handmaiden of history.”
This year, the celebration of Hanukkah (the word means dedication) will take place from Dec. 1 to Dec. 9, when every Jewish household will light one candle each evening commemorating the rededication of the temple in Jerusalem in 164 B.C.
All of the perpetrators of the crimes of Sept. 11, 2001, were Muslim, came from Saudi, Arabia, and were Arab.
There are five basic tenets of Islam: to profess the faith; to pray five times a day; to give alms to the poor; to make a pilgrimage to Mecca; to fast during Ramadan.
The Jewish feast of Shavout and Christian Pentecost are both celebrated 50 days after major feasts.
In the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem is a display of the Shroud of Turin, visited every year by thousands of tourists.
Editor’s note: This is a reprint of one of Elizabeth McNamer’s more popular columns
It was the Greeks who invented the genre of the drama, and Greek playwrights produced splendid plays. Christianity forbade the attendance at these “licentious representations of paganism” in the early centuries of its history. In the 10th century, however, on solemn feasts such as Christmas …
Jerusalem has many sites sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims. For Jews, there is the West (Wailing) Wall; for Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; for Muslims, the Mosque of Omar, (known as the Dome of the Rock). Its gilded dome glistens in the sun, dominating the Jerusalem lands…
St. Catherine's Monastery is an Orthodox monastery on the Sinai peninsula at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt.
The holiest place on earth for Christians is the Holy Sepulcher, the tomb in which Jesus was laid and from which he arose on Easter Sunday.
At the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem on a Friday evening, hundreds of Jews gather to bemoan the destruction of their temple and to pray:
Bethlehem is located about six miles southwest of Jerusalem in the hill country of Judea.
The name "Halloween" derives from "Eve of all hallows," or the night before the feast of all the holy or hallowed saints.
Recently, the pope and the patriarch of Constantinople declared the year from June 28, 2008, to June 28, 2009, as the year of St. Paul, to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the saint's birth.
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is both the head of state and the spiritual leader of Tibet, an arid plateau that lies to the north of India and the west of China.
Israel recently celebrated 60 years of existence as a state.
When Pope Benedict XVI visited the United States in April, he was received as a visiting head of state. Benedict is not only bishop of Rome - the 233rd since Peter, and thus leader of 1 billion Catholics - but he is also head of the Vatican City state recognized under international law.
The Rylands University Library in Manchester, England, houses the oldest fragment of a Gospel in existence.
This year, Easter, on March 23, will be very early.
It is related that in 1219, while the fifth Crusade to win back Jerusalem from the Muslims was going on, Francis of Assisi went to Egypt and entered the camp of the Sultan to sue for peace. He was not successful, but the Sultan was so impressed that he allowed him to preach to his subjects a…
In re-creating the milieu in which Jesus lived, the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius is one of the best sources.
Every summer, about 40,000 people visit Israel.
A recent documentary on the Discovery Channel on "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" has many people confused. The documentary claims that a tomb containing 10 ossuaries unearthed in 1980 in Jerusalem was the tomb of the family of Jesus, the founder of Christianity.
Valentine's Day, like many other holidays on the Christian calendar, is of pagan origins.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
This time of year there is a lot of emphasis on Halloween, but the day after that - All Saints Day - has another kind of significance.
The word "gospel" means "good news."
The word "angel" comes from the Greek word "angelos," meaning "messenger."
Dan Brown, author of "The DaVinci Code," is by no means the first to become wealthy on Mary Magdalene. Stories about her abound.