Located near the Jordan River, Jericho is a very ancient city whose oldest ruins are those of a settlement dating to 8000 years before Christ. The west bank of the river is for christians the usual place for pilgrimages in memory of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist.
It was here in Jericho that the Lord Jesus gave Bartimaeus back his sight and converted the rich Zacchaeus, performing for both his ministry of the Good Shepherd.
Jericho is the city that Joshua, in around 1200 B, conquered peacefully (Joshua 2,1 – 4,24) thanks to the famous trumpets which, in the symbolism of the Bible, represent the intervention of God: that the people of the Alliance could settle in Jericho was a gift from God. In this very ancient city, the oldest fortified city known in the East, which dates back to 8000 or 9000 years ago, there is the Tel es-Sultan, a hillock standing some 15 metres high where Miss Kenyon carried out excavations in 1955-56.
Jericho is also the place in the Gospel where the Lord Jesus healed two injured men: Bartimaeus, physically injured by blindness and Zacchaeus, injured in the soul by his sins (Luke 18-19). The few sycamores still left in the present-day city of Jericho remind pilgrims that Zacchaeus climbed up into the branches of a sycamore to see Jesus. The small Latin Catholic church is dedicated to Jesus the Good Shepherd: because Jesus really was a Good Shepherd for Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus. It is the parish church of a small community of 200 Arab Christians. Just a few steps away there is the Orthodox church, which has about 250 faithful. Two Catholic schools (one for boys and one for girls) bring together all the children of the Catholic and Orthodox families, as well as a good number of Muslim children; Jericho has a population of about 25,000 Arab Muslims.
Jesus said to the Jews: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father."
Convent of the Good Shepherd
P. O.B. 23 - The Holy Land
Tel.: +972. 2 232.25.32
Fax: +972. 2 232.60.62
Sanctuary Visiting Hours
Summer: 8.00-12.00; 14.30-18.00
Winter: 8.00-12.00; 14.30-17.00
Leader: To God the father, who sent His Son into the world so that he could be the Good Shepherd, we address our action of grace.
All: Lord, we thank you.
1. We remember the physical healing of Bartimaeus the blind man and scores of other miracles told in the Gospels. We bless you, Lord our Father, for having sent Jesus the Good Shepherd to live in this Land.
2. We remember the moral conversion of Zacchaeus, the rich man, and the conversion of many other sinners, by Jesus during his life on earth; we praise you, Lord our Father, for the Incarnation of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
3. For all the baptised who benefit from the sacrament of Reconciliation, when they are in sin and who are sanctified thanks to Jesus the Good Shepherd. We thank you, Lord our Father.
4. For all men who listen to the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and who can live in light and in peace, we bless you, Lord our Father.
5. For all the priests, deacons and Christians who commit themselves to following the example of the Lord Jesus and to being good shepherds for men who are not yet in the “fold” of the Church, we thank you, Lord.
Leader: God our Father, we thank you for having given us the grace and the joy of coming to Jericho in pilgrimage, for having allowed us to relive the miraculous story of the healing of the blind man, Bartimaeus, and the conversion of Zacchaeus. Bestow on us the gift of being increasingly grateful to you, that you may reign in the centuries of centuries. Amen.