MAGDALA – On Sunday, November 24, 2019, on the solemnity of Christ the King, the Eucharist was celebrated in Magdala and the new Guesthouse for pilgrims of the Legionaries of Christ was inaugurated. Cardinal Aguiar Retes, Archbishop and Primate of Mexico, celebrated the Mass.
It is in this so evocative setting that on Sunday, November 24, the inauguration was held of the new “Magdala” center intended to welcome pilgrims. The center is built on an archaeological area that houses the ruins of the village of Magdala. The current center includes a church and a guesthouse. The chapel is divided into two spaces: the circular entrance and the actual church, characterized by large side windows and a semicircular glass wall instead of the apse, which allows a magnificent view of the Sea of Galilee flooding it with light. The altar, placed on a raised floor with respect to the benches of the faithful, has the shape of a boat which, although unrelated to the traditional architectural canons, harmonizes perfectly with the lake landscape behind it.
The inauguration was preceded in the morning by the Holy Mass of the Solemnity of Christ the King celebrated by H.E. Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, Metropolitan Archbishop of Mexico City, accompanied, among others, by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli.
The presence of the Card Aguiar Retes was justified by the fact that the center of Magdala is headed by the Legionaries of Christ, a religious institute born in Mexico and widespread in the Central American country. Over 300 people attended the ceremony not only from Galilee but from all over the world.
The Mass, celebrated in English, was animated by the Magnificat choir with singing in English, Latin, Italian and Arabic. The prayers were instead recited in Italian, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, French and Spanish, as a sign of the communion that unites all people in God.
At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, the procession of the faithful led by the priests processed outside the structure, singing a hymn in honor of Mary Magdalene and stopping near the large circular mosaic – located in the outer courtyard – which geographically represents the sea of Galilee and the nearby places mentioned in the Gospels. The blessing of the mosaic was followed by that of the structure, which Cardinal Aguiar Retes and Archbishop Pizzaballa blessed together.
After refreshments in the garden of the structure, on the shores of the lake, all those present took their places in the elegant atrium of the Guesthouse, where the traditional ribbon cutting took place. Before the cutting, however, there was the moment dedicated to the history of the construction of the Center and to the expression of gratitude to all those who contributed to it, punctuated by the pleasant performance of an ensemble that entertained the audience with some pieces of classical music.
The great strategist of the Magdala Guesthouse, Fr. Juan Solana, L.C., visibly moved, described the origins and development of the Magdala Project, which began with the idea that the ministry of Christ, also in this place, involved women and men, transforming their lives. Among other interventions we will limit ourselves to mentioning that of the mayor of Magdala, who did not fail to thank Fr. Juan and to remember how this place should be considered a common space of friendship between Jews and Christians.
Filippo De Grazia
Mass, procession and blessing